Being tales of disparate parts of the family LeVrai


Fledgling Freddie
Dec 24, 2003
I will get around to writing other stuff but I'm a lazy so-and-so and need to be poked before I'll set pixels to docfile.
Here are some character backgrounds in the meantime though.

The Story of Chretien and Ederillan

The carriage rolled at a stately pace through the clear Avalonian night. The driver, wrapped snugly against the pervasive cold, swore under his breath as faint sounds of distress and alarm carried through the still calm from the impenetrable distance ahead.
Rapping on the window with his rod he bent low enough to be able to call through to the interior.
“Looks like trouble ahead Milord.”
A slender and bejewelled hand waved unconcern.
“Drive on Aeolred, We’ll see what is the matter when we get there.”
Grunting his, not particularly enthusiastic, assent the driver resumed his position and unshipped a sturdy crossbow from the thick roll behind his seat.

Some distance further down the road, the source of the commotion became clear. A horse wandering aimlessly and limping from a deep gash in it’s leg was the only movement in the unfolding scene of tragedy. Nearby and just off the road, several people lay, very still and staring sightlessly into the clear sky. Aeolred cocked his crossbow and peered carefully from atop the carriage looking for suspicious movements from the surrounding scrub. Satisfied that whoever had been responsible for the slaughter was no longer in the area he hopped down and began to inspect the bodies of the unfortunates. Behind him the door of the carriage opened and one of the occupants stepped down. The man who appeared was tall and very slender, wearing the long flowing robes and mantle of a lay proctor of the church with a crimson sash and cap, he wore his wealth openly in the form of many jewels on his fingers, throat and chest. Grey-haired and stately he still moved with the grace and fluidity of a much younger man.
“Seems to be some kind of beast sir.” Aoelred said, turning over bodies with his foot to reveal the deep gouges and terrible wounds in the victims. “Poor beggars probably didn’t even see it pounce. Not a lot we can do here if you ask me sir.”
Suddenly he stopped and bent to inspect the body of a girl lying crumpled against a tree stump. He back was to the road as if she was trying to hide something and as Aoelred pushed her aside he saw what she had died to protect. A baby wrapped in a tartan blanket stretched into wakefulness and almost immediately began to wail. The driver reached down and picked the child up carefully whilst the still night was split with its shrieks.
“I’ll take that Aoelred.” The tall man commanded. “It needs to be warm and fed, Lady Amrie will see to it.”
Gratefully the driver passed the small but noisy bundle to his master and, taking a last glance around, remounted the carriage. The door slammed behind him and he drove on.

Inside the coach, the baby was the subject of much discussion. A richly dressed lady was holding it and trying to stop it from shrieking, whilst a small boy looked on with interest from beside her.
“We’ll try and find out who was riding through at that time and see if this little one has any kin, failing that the Church will have to provide for her welfare.” The man spoke distantly as though he was still thinking about the words he was saying even as he spoke them.
“What happens to people who don’t have mothers and fathers?” The small boy asked.
“Hush Chretien, the Church provides. They are looked after and brought up well.
“So we will hand her over to the orphanage then?” Amrie asked with a determined glint in her eye. “Deal with her like coins from the collection plate, when you know that Chretien will never have a brother or sister.”
Flapping his hands resignedly the man leant back in his seat.
“You know best dear, we’ll make arrangements.”

Some years later on a summers day in Avalon, a boy of about ten years and a girl younger than he but already bigger and stronger were playing together at the banks of a pool. They were catching frogs and seeing who’s frog could get back to the pond fastest.
“Father says I am to enter Ecumenical College next year” the boy announced apropos of nothing and with evident pride. “ I will be a bishop one day you’ll see.”
“I don’t know what I’ll be” the girl replied. “Perhaps I’ll be a soldier and guard Lord Ardribards castle from the Elves and the Trolls. Father hasn’t really said yet.”
“That’s because he’s not your father Deri!” the boy said nonchalantly. “I expect you’ll be a washer woman or work in Ardribards scullery like the other people without mothers and fathers.”
Ten minutes later Lady Amrie was washing the blood off the boys face while he sobbed into her dress.
“And then she hit me and she kept on hitting me and I hate her, she’s horrible. Why does she have to live here mother? Can’t you send her away? Make her live somewhere else. I don’t want to be a bishop! I want to learn to fight and carry a sword. I want to be a soldier!”
Lady Amrie rolled her eyes, she had been hearing this sort of thing more and more recently. Chretien was a tall boy for his age but, even by the standards of Avalonians, he had never been particularly strong. Ederillan however was different, her origins amongst the northern hillfolk showed in her rugged physique and ruddy complexion. Lady Amrie had long since given up trying to turn her into the ethereal and dainty creatures Avalonian debutantes were expected to be, instead she had encouraged her to follow her more martial interests and practice swordplay and hunting. With their fathers position in the Church, both had also been brought up in the Light and taught to worship and revere the power of Arthur’s Grail and the Light of Albion. It was his fathers resolve that Chretien enter the Church as his father had although, it was expected that he would take holy orders rather than become a lay official like his father. Recently though he’d been showing signs of jealousy at his sisters training and had taken to hanging around and watching her as she sparred with sword and shield. He’d also been spotted trying to emulate her training in secret and reading books of military adventures and tactical notes. Like it or no, his more warlike adopted sister was having an influence on him.
Later that night Chretien was summoned to his fathers study. Shelves full of books and scrolls lined the walls and a large desk covered in parchment, candles, sealing wax, quills and ink stood centrally. Behind it Chretien was astonished to see not only his father but also Lord Ardribard, a close friend of his father and a regular visitor to the estate. Usually though such visits were announced in plenty of time and the household busily made ready for such a distinguished visitor for days beforehand. No such word had been sent this time.
“Ah Chretien, my boy!” Lord Ardribard beamed. “You get taller every time I see you, I declare! Now then I’m told you’re looking forward to serving the Church. Marvellous my lad, simply marvellous. Well I have some news for you. You can either go to the Ecumenical College or your father has asked if you might be accepted as a squire to the Church. How would you like to train as a paladin my boy?”
Chretiens eyes shone, he knew that he didn’t want to be a bishop anymore.


Fledgling Freddie
Dec 24, 2003
From the Ashes

There was a lot of confusion in those days so if I miss anything out or get a name wrong you’ll have to excuse the memory of an old man. Back then we didn’t realise how serious the invasion was of course. The fighting was far away and in our fastness at Caer Caddug we thought we were safe enough. I was castellan and it fell to me to lay in the provisions for our winter season. Lord Caddug was a fair man but not one given to military thought. He’d chart the courses of the moon and the stars or the geometry of rock crystal but he was not a fighter and he knew his limit. So he had me as castellan and de Pays as his Master-at-Arms.

I remember de Pays as a young man before he lost his eye and gained the weariness of age. He had been a brave and cunning sergeant and later a shrewd captain. Many were the lords who offered him wealth and comfort to buy his expertise however he chose Caddug for reasons known only to himself. A big man, stout of heart and voice, he could rouse an army to ride into hell itself and they’d go singing. Not many of his sort these days, but then with the war and all I don’t suppose there would be.

Hey ho

Anyway, we were at Caddug and not expecting to have to bear a siege. We had the occasional scout force break through the lines to the west and rampage for a bit but the foresters dealt with most of those before they came this far. The harbour was busy back then, ships carrying the wounded to Gothwaite and new troops being brought to the front. I haven’t been back since but I’ve heard there is nothing but a few rotting hulks left there these days.

There were five of them back then, young and bright as the morning stars. Three are left and to me they are as my own. There was Ansetha the quietest of them all who was shy but always laughed like falling water. Chanticleer the youngest, he was much loved by his sister Ansetha and was always her champion whenever the children fell out. Fielen was a small boy for his age but smart and a born rider. Rikael was the prettiest and she knew it, her white-golden hair flew behind her like a banner and she had lads sent from all over to make her match. She turned them all down or got her father to, which wasn’t hard as he’d do anything she asked of him. Finally there was Argentir, strong as a horse and fast with a blade. Hunting was his main love and he’d spend days in the forest with a spear and a hound.

In that winter we’d laid in our usual stocks and filled the cellars with grains and fruits and all the good things we’d need for the season and the usual emergencies – more than once we’d had to host a ships company when their pilot had run into the sandbanks past the harbour. The last news we’d had from the front had said that Morgana’s forces where held at bay, Sidi had fallen early on and was her main fastness but she was not advancing forwards. The Gwyntell garrison had been relieved and fresh troops were being called forwards to break her lines and throw her back all the way to Caldey. We were completely unprepared for that cold December night when the first frantic farmers came streaming to the gates bearing their wives, children and what few possessions they could carry. We heard many tragic tales that night, mothers who’d lost sight of children and heard their screams as they rode to safety, men found flayed and burnt to death and the bestial cruelty of the Drakorans to those who stayed to defend their homes.
Bare hours after the first refugees arrived in the bailey, we saw the fires approaching.

De Pays was in the middle of it of course. He had the ramparts manned, gates reinforced and scouts despatched within minutes. His force of will undoubtedly kept a few waverers at their posts when most were urging a flight to the harbour and the safety of the sea. I got the healers organised at their stations and women with water buckets soaking all the hay and thatch as best they might. By midnight we could see the fires encircling us and we knew then this was no skirmish force but a legion or more of Morgana’s army set loose into the heart of Avalon. Dawn brought confirmation of the night’s fears. All around us were set the filthy tents and stinking midden trenches of the Drakorans. Countless thousands of them ringed us in a busy throng, their guttural shouts carrying over the scant distance between their front line and the castle walls.

Even then we thought we were only facing a regular siege. We’d have been tight if it had come to that but with strict rationing and good discipline we could have held for two months, maybe three. The evening showed us how wrong we were. A group of men, in long robes were in the rear of the Drakoran camp. I watched them from the barbican and directed archers at them but they were too far away to be threatened by us. They formed circles and strode about pointing and waving their arms, from our vantage point we could not hear words only the brash horns and booming drums that accompanied their work. Even as the sun dropped below the horizon, a ghastly light rose from their camp and snaked towards the battlements. If it touched a man, that man died. A whole company was lost to the last man before we could react. In panic men fled the walls, jumping to the ground below, those that survived the fall were torn to pieces as the Drakorans surged forwards and charged the walls.

I remember seeing the first wave of Drakorans clear the battlements, de Pays had rallied a company of archers in the courtyard and had them fire volley after volley into the beasts. Even when pierced with many arrows they did not stop but poured over the ramparts and into the terrified throng. I drew my sword and fought my way to the tower where my duty lay. De Pays was bellowing orders, trying to mount a resistance and even then men were harkening to him and forming barricades. I ran into the tower and found Lord Caddug himself being suited in his armour. He was an old man and the armour no longer fitted him as it should, even I could see that it would be more of a hindrance to him if he were to fight in it but he looked so grim that I could not bring myself to say it. As I entered his chamber he gave me the last order I ever heard from him.
‘Get the children out’ he told me. ‘Make sure they are safe, take them to Avalon City if you can and if that way is closed go as far out to sea as you might.’
I could only nod as he stepped through the door, his grandfathers’ sword in his hand and into the maelstrom that raged in the courtyard.

I rushed upstairs to the private chambers where the children slept and had them all dress warmly and in dark clothes that they might better escape notice in the night.
We all filed downstairs and out through a scullery door into what used to be a quiet quadrangle. Through a gate we could see the bitter fight in the courtyard, drakorans were still boiling over the walls and while some were engaged in destroying the great main gates, most were pressing hard on the tower. De Pays was holding a desperate position in the tower door itself, his face was covered in blood and his armour looked as if a mule had kicked it. From the stables we could hear the horses being killed and all about were the shrieks of dying men. I hurried the children down into a small outhouse where a cellar could be reached that contained an emergency passage to the harbour. The door was latched fast behind us and I had the children push tables, barrels and anything heavy up to the door so that we might keep any of the vile horde from following us. Barely had we finished this when I saw the cellar door open and the Drakoran step through.
My blood froze. I had never been so close to one of the vile creatures before and Goddess willing I never shall again. I still carry the shame of that moment and not a day passes when I do not wish I had been faster or stronger. Argentir was nearest to the thing and he struck at it with his dirk. He was fast and his aim was true and he scored a goodly gouge in the beasts’ hide. The creature barely flinched but grabbed the boys’ arm in its’ cruel taloned claws. Argentir yelled and lashed out with his boot but the thing held him fast, then with a single swipe of it’s other claw opened him up from shoulder to belly. His blood poured out and I see him hanging there in that infernal grip every night, white as snow and calling out my name as the life gushed from him. I had my sword in my hand by now and swung hard at the things’ head. I struck it across the eye and it bellowed in pain and reeled away. Whilst it was thus distracted the children rushed past into the cellar and I followed them to the passageway within. We could hear the thing thrashing around upstairs as we pulled the dusty trapdoor open. It had been cunningly concealed as the lid to a crate so we were not concerned about being followed provided we were not seen escaping. Once inside the cramped and damp tunnel we finally stopped and began to tremble. The children were all very quiet except for Rikael who was crying. I could only hold her hand and stroke her hair, I could scarce keep back my own tears and I had nothing to say that would comfort her. It was Ansetha who finally stood up and said ‘We’d best get moving, we need to be out of here while it’s still dark and that…thing will come and look for us soon.’
Silently we moved out. The rough-hewn tunnel ran for nearly half a mile before we came to a crude flight of steps, climbing these we came to a small cave mouth through which we could see the stars and hear surf. We pulled our cloaks closer and stepped out onto the beach.

I weighed the options, Avalon City was twelve miles away and the other side of a Drakoran siege. We could give Caddug a wide berth but that would still give us no guarantee of not running into a Drakoran patrol, besides in the day or so it would take to get there, we might find the mighty city itself under siege. I decided our best bet was to find a boat and flee to the Isle of Glass. We could either go ashore and seek refuge in Anniogel or even take the boat all the way around and head for the great port of Gothwaite. I could see the jetties only a few hundred yards away and boats of all sizes bobbing in the inky black water. Quickly I explained what we must do to the children and we started to steal around the edge of the cliffs towards the silent harbour. Soon we were as close as we could get without breaking cover and I pointed out the vessel we’d make for. It was a smallish fishing boat with a single sail that we could set and crew easily ourselves. I gave a sign and we dashed for our refuge. Barely had we started across the beach when I felt a great pain suddenly and my leg was struck from under me. As I rolled over I heard the zip of arrows flying through the night air and saw the feathered shaft in my calf. I pulled myself to my feet and drew my sword again, not that I expected to do much against an archer except die and give the children time enough to get clear. As I pulled myself up I saw the patrol coming in for the kill, their bows were back over their spined shoulders and they carried cruel looking axes. Four of them strode towards us and I knew we were dead.

As they approached I began to feel faint from the wound in my leg so I cannot say with great clarity what happened next but I do remember the Drakorans stopped, frozen as if turned to statues. Then there was a great light surrounding them and, roaring in pain and fear they turned about and charged back up the beach. Then I saw the man stood there, hammer in one hand, shield in the other. The beasts struck at him and their claws glanced off his chain mail, he struck back with his mace and killed first one, then another then the third fell and the fourth turned and ran. The man did not chase but instead called a word forth and light struck the fleeing creature and struck it dead.

He hurried over to where I stood, leaning against a jetty post. He was tall and dark haired and I could see that he had seen much of war.
‘Light be upon you brother.’ His voice had the dialect of the mainlanders. ‘You are fortunate that I happened back this way.’ He began to stoop to look at the wound in my leg then stopped before he could examine it. I sensed something was wrong and turned to follow his gaze.
‘Oh no.’ he said and then strode over to where the children were huddled. I saw their dark cloaks bunched around them as they had taken cover under the jetties and one pierced with a long, dark arrow. I turned with him and struggled along behind him as he gently turned back the cloak. There was Fielen and through his heart the arrow stood. The man began to chant a prayer to the Light and I could feel the hairs on my hands and neck stand up as the power flowed around and through him. A soft yellowish glow hung over Fielen and then dissipated. The man turned his face to look at me. ‘It is not enough for this one. He cannot be returned through any art of mine. Live in the Light young friend.’ With that he pulled the cloak tenderly around Fielen and picked the boy’s body up. At that point I confess I stopped fighting and fell to the ground. All the pain, all the loss and grief, rolled over me like a tide and I had no more rage or fear to keep it at bay. Things for me were dim and hazy at this point but my next waking memory is of the boat rocking beneath me and the sun on my face. The man was there breaking rations from his pack and passing them amongst the children, a wind had filled the sail and nowhere could I see land. My leg ached still although the bleeding had stopped and the bandages were clean looking.
‘We are safe for the moment’ said the man noticing I had awoken. ‘We are sailing to the East and my families estates. I can turn and put you ashore at Gothwaite if you wish but I would not counsel returning to the Isle of Apples if you can help it. Morgana is further south than most believe and Gothwaite itself may be in danger ere the winter is out.’
‘I thank you for all that you have done’ I managed to say. ‘Without your aid we would surely all have died, I am the Castellan of Caer Caddug, and these are my charges, the children of his Lordship. My name is Beaumaris and these,’ I waved at each in turn, ‘are Rikael, Ansetha and Chanticleer.’
The man bowed deeply while smiling broadly. I am glad to meet you kin, for kin you all are. I am Chandler and Lord Caddug is my uncle. I am returning now to the mainland where we have more family. I’d suggest it might be best if you came back with me and we can decide what is to become of these three.’

Six days later we were sat in a castle that had never seen war and the horrors of the Isle of Apples seemed somehow absurd. A very tall avalonian called Ardribard sat at the head of a long table, and listened to our tale with an expression like thunder. Beside him sat another tall avalonian wearing the robes of a priest. Next to him sat a lady of the northern hillfolk, incongruous amongst an assembly of the delicate avalonians, but dressed in their manner and clearly at ease in this company. Between the lady and myself sat a tall man with collar length blond hair. He was the first to speak after I had related our tale.
‘We cannot allow the slaughter of our kin. I say we must strip the garrison here and send a force to relieve the Homeland. I would gladly serve in such a force’ he gestured around the room ‘the Geersha have been pushed back and we are no longer on a war footing.’
Ardribard stood up and smoothed down his robe. He paused to look at everyone in turn before he spoke.
‘I’m sure you would Chretien, I’d expect nothing less of you my boy. We cannot move yet however.’ He raised his hand to quell the immediate murmur of disquiet that echoed around the room. ‘The Homeland is not our homeland only. Strange allies are to be found in the darkest of times. When it is time we will take the war back to Morgana and exact a toll in Drakoran blood for everyone of our kinsfolk who fell. That time is not now. For the moment we have found aid where we did not look for it. Gothwaite will be garrisoned and a line will be drawn across the Isle of Glass. No Drakoran will pass and our people will be safe enough. Diogel and Gwyntell still stand fast and Morgana cannot break their walls. Nor will she, our allies have seen to that.’
At this the lady spoke up. ‘Who are these mysterious allies you speak of my Lord?’
Ardribard smiled.
‘I was getting to that Ederillan. I would like you all to meet my very good friend.’ He gestured to a door and it swung open. Through it stepped a short creature, barely taller than the table at which we sat, with bluish skin and a hanging folds of loose skin giving a slightly webbed aspect to the face. Large black eyes gazed languidly at the assembled crowd. It bowed deeply and spoke in a reedy, slightly lisping voice.
‘Hellos all. I am much gladding to bes invited to yous castle. I am Martal’Ytta. I finks we will have a lot of talkings to be had.’ It nodded vigourously and grinned as the room erupted into uproar.

Later that day I saw Chandler talking to the tall blond man and the highlander lady. He saw me and waved me over.
‘Well good news for you. I’ve got to dash soon, needed up at Sauvage you know for the new campaign, but Chretien here will take you into his service and the children can stay with his father, the proctor Le Vrai. They’ll get a good upbringing and a chance to make something of themselves worth their heritage.’ He beamed and slapped me on the shoulder before bending to my ear and in a mock whisper which all could hear said.
‘Bad luck old son, I’d rather wrestle a troll than look after him but hey. Just don’t get him started on the Goddess…’ And with a cheeky smile he turned and walked smartly off to the stable yard.
Since that time I have grown old in the service of my lord and seen his campaigning against the drakorans and against the distant foes of Midgard and Hibernia. I have also seen quiet Ansetha grow into a woman and take her place in the academy. I have seen haughty Rikael, clad in the finest armour her doting cousin can provide, stride forward in the service of the Light as a paladin (for the Proctor was very strict about the children turning from the Goddess to the Light of Albion) and young Chanticleer taking the vows of a cleric in the Church of a foreign land, but I will never again see the sun rise over Caer Caddug and the place where two of my children died.

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