Restitutor Orbis

The Old North

Tensions were building in Icenia. Icel’s plan to bait Arthur into breaking the truce by seizing control of Dommoc had fallen apart when Lugh Striking-Hand listened to the Angles’ concerns, and thus forced them to question their loyalties. Meanwhile, Saxons from across the island who yearned for a chance to fight Arthur again and reverse their defeat at Badon Hill continued to flock to Icenia, seeking Icel, the only leader to defeat Arthur in battle. Yet the bonds of oath and honor still forced him to refrain from attack.

According to some, this was why Icel begged his eldest son Cnebba to kill him. Cnebba, unbound by those oaths, could pursue the war that he could not. Of course, that story seems far too convenient for Cnebba — many believe that he merely took advantage of the growing faction eager for war to slay his father and seize his throne.

This news reached Lugh by way of a messenger, who also reported that Wulfric had died. Bound by oaths of loyalty to Icel and his heir Cnebba, Wulfric faced a similar dilemma to Icel. Impressed by Lugh and unwilling to raise arms against him, he nonetheless could not betray Cnebba. So, when Cnebba ordered him to attack Arthur’s forces, he did so — alone. Though he fought bravely, his decision to go alone was suicide, intended to remove him and the entanglements of his oaths. The messenger bore all this, as well as greetings from Dommoc’s new commander, Beorn, with assurances of his loyalty.

With this news that war had broken out in Icenia, the knights rushed to Arthur’s camp. Arthur took control of their warbands, but sent them to Guotodin along with two other of Lot’s sons, Ualcos Magesos and Ualcaved. Arthur feared that the war in the south would encourage Lot to take advantage of the opportunity to revolt against him in the north, and hoped to keep a second front from opening up by sending a few hand-picked warriors there.

As they rode across Guotodin to see Lot at Din Eidyn, they paid attention to the talk among the people of the realm. They spoke of Arthur as a foreign invader who had no business beyond the Wall. They pointed to his sister, Modron, as evidence of this. She is the eldest child of Uther Pendragon — why is she not High Queen? It shows that he is a Roman, ignorant and dismissive of their traditions. They spoke of the Peace of Din Eidyn with resentment, believing that it merely kept them from a war they were sure to win. Such a war would bring them wealth, glory, and power — but it might also bring their sons and daughters home who had left the kingdom behind in search of fortune and adventure. Some called Lot a fool for agreeing to it, but most blamed Arthur for pressing him into it.

The knights were received warmly at Din Eidyn, and Lot soon proposed that he should marry Arthur’s sister, Modron. He said that it would be easier for him to convince the people of Guotodin that Camulod was a friend and not a foreign conqueror if Arthur was his kin. The knights quickly suspected that this had more to do with Lot positioning himself for the High Kingship himself. Referring to Lot’s treatment of Teneu, Caius Hectorius took particular exception to his long-lost sister marrying Lot. As the discussion escalated, it became yet another point of contention between him and Lugh, as the discussion started to shift towards not wanting his family connected to Lugh’s family.

The knights visited with others who held power and influence throughout the realm, including Aedan ap Cynfelyn and the poet Anierin. Anierin, who had often written poems of praise about great warriors and their adventures, wanted to take part in one himself, and he had one perfectly suited to the idealistic knights of Camulod in mind. He pointed them to a local chieftain named Emrys who oppressed the local people terribly. Anierin rode with the knights as they attacked his fort. In his hall, Emrys grievously wounded Bedwyr. The sight of his brother-in-arms struck down enraged Caius, who rushed forward to slay Emrys.

In Din Eidyn, Senica mocked Bedwyr’s wounds, which again enraged Caius, who challenged her to fight there and then. Senica proved a far more vicious fighter than Caius had anticipated, however. Bedwyr, in turn enraged to see this treatment of Caius, tried to challenge Senica as well, but he, too, was handily defeated. Senica scorned the warriors of the south, and said she would never support a southern weakling like Arthur until Caius and Bedwyr could both prove their worth by beating her just once in a fight.

As Anierin’s poetry begins to spread, praising Bedwyr and the Sons of Lot for their heroism and bravery, attitudes in the kingdom towards Camulod have improved ever so slightly. However, there remains much to do. The knights have started to think about the traditions of the Votadini. For centuries they lived on the edge of the Roman Empire. Though conquered by it for only the shortest time, they nonetheless became embroiled in the Empire’s wars, their traditions shaped by centuries of conflict until war became the only thing that mattered to them. Now Rome has gone, but its legacy remains. The knights begin to wonder: could this be more than a diplomatic mission for Camulod? Might they be able to take on the challenge of reshaping Votadini tradition … to give them something other than war to take pride in?

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Jason

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