The Campaign

A Bard's Tale

Yseult of Powys is travelling from Pengwern in the Welsh Kingdom of Powys to deliver a message to King Arthur

This is her story . . . Yseult of Powys

Cold rain and unsettled winds scudded up the valley of the wide river and she could smell the sea in the distance. To her left, over a lip of rolling hills she could feel something alien and cold, something bitter and enormously wicked but thankfully slumbering, and she passed on by quietly and as quickly as she could. [OOC: My quick nod to Ramsay Campbell and his Tales of the Severn Valley, but we are not going there!]

Another day and a half of trudging through mud and wet brush brought her to the old Roman town and she could feel the thrumming echo of the ancient goddess deep in the stone beneath her feet. She entered the crowded streets and made her way to the hot waters to bath in glory and offer her respects to the old ways. Once finished in her ritual and dressed again for the road, she put her hand on the sleeve of a passing merchant to ask directions. Her voice, unused for so long to shape the sounds of human intercourse, came out as a croak, punctuated with squeaks and whistles of bird tongue and the man shook her off, making the horned god's sign of protection against the evil eye.

She paused, turned aside into a quite place between buildings and made herself speak aloud, repeating her words over and over until her mouth and her tongue worked again in the way that mankind communicated. Only when she felt ready did she try again. This time a carter leading a wagon loaded with stinking hides pulled by two massive oxen.

"I seek the court of the new king. Arthur. Is it here?"

The man looked her over. His eyes flickered between disdain and fear as he took in her bedraggled appearance and the obvious power of the totems she wore.

"Not here," he snapped, pointing with his long whip towards the southward branch of the road ahead. "South. Cross the river at the ford and then take the road to the right. Camelud, where the old giant's fort was. That's where the boy king is. Him and his fancy new table." He spat into the mud and wiggled his fingers in a variety of hex aversion signs that almost made her burst out laughing so muddled and useless they were.

Two more days she trudged on, though at least the weather had dried and a steady breeze from the west brought with it the first flavors of spring. At night she pulled the shadows around herself to hide from prying eyes and slept in hidden hollows that the birds led her to, dry and protected from the weather.

Snow drops blossomed almost overnight in the hedge rows and a red fuzz crept along the branches of the hawthorn. At last she topped a low hill with sheep grazing in the fields on either side and caught her first glimpse of the king's new castle. It glowed white in the midday sun. The inner stone keep, built on the bones of the giant's fort and the surrounding wooden paling had both been painted stark white, and the impression was of a single, solid structure, all of pure marble, that shone out across the countryside for all to see. Even the sheep must be under the protection of the king's influence, for she saw no shepherds standing wary guard over their flocks.

It took another hour to reach the gates and as she approached she saw that she was behind another visitor — someone important by the size of his entourage. A wagon, mounted men and a squad of . . . where they Romans? By the goddess! Legionnaires in Britain again?

The guards at the gate, hard warriors with long spears and sharp swords, were not happy with the arrival of the Romans and she could hear angry words as she came closer. It did not help that the Roman decurion spoke Latin and the master of the gate spoke British. Tempers were beginning to fray.

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Our Story So Far . . .

July 2014
The Player Characters gather at Camelud -- King Arthur's capital city in what is left of post-Roman Britain. They have come to see the young king for many reasons. Soon he will assign them a quest -- a journey that will change their lives forever.


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