Restitutor Orbis

Enemies of God

488 AD

King Lot’s long-lost son, Cunotigernos, returned to Din Eidyn as a monk to condemn his father’s paganism. Lot was enraged by this. His son, Lugh Striking-Hand, rode forth to avenge his father. He tracked his nephew to a monastery, arriving in the middle of the wedding of a procurator from Eboracum named Firactus. Badiovirus had come to the wedding with a small band of warriors, intent on killing Firactus for his collaboration with an Anglian warlord named Winta. As Lugh and his warriors knocked in the doors and set fire to the monastery, Badiovirus and his warriors joined them. They burned the monastery to the ground and slew many of Firactus’s warriors, though both Firactus and Cunotigernos escaped with their lives.

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The Knight from Isurium

489 AD

After his father was killed in battle, Peredur was raised by his mother, who moved into a hut in the woods outside of Isurium Brigantum, the former civitas capital of the Brigantes. She wanted to keep her son away from the violent outside world that had claimed his father. That all ended when Badiovirus rode through on his way to Isurium, hoping to recruit warriors to fight against the Saxons. Peredur begged Badiovirus to let him join his band. The other warriors laughed at the boy, but when Peredur maintained his determination even after Badiovirus warned him of the dangers, he relented and agreed to let Peredur join them.

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Winta's War

490 AD

Two years after the confrontation at Cunotigernos’s monastery, Winta, the Anglian warlord invited to Britain by Einion ap Mark, had recruited an army around Lindum. Badiovirus had spent his time preparing for this, recruiting warriors from Eboracum. An army assembled by Ambrosius Aurelianus arrived, under the command of Caius Hectorius. Caius was unsure about his shadowy ally in the wilds, but they terrorized the Angles, driving them right into Caius’s trap. The combination proved so deadly that Winta sent his best warriors after the two leaders, and managed to capture them both. The two warleaders finally met, as captives in Winta’s camp.

King Lot had sent his son, Lugh Striking-Hand, south to help Uther Pendragon, in the hopes of securing his aid against the Picts. Uther sent Lugh to Winta’s camp to bargain for the release of his son. When he arrived in the camp, however, Lugh recognized Badiovirus, and rather than deliver the ransom, decided to rescue the two warleaders. Together, the three knights cut their way out of Winta’s camp, leaving such casualties behind that Winta had no choice but to end his insurrection.

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The Witch of Noviomagus

491 AD

Uther Pendragon was forced to break off the war against Winta and travel south when word came that the Saxon warlord Ælle had begun laying siege to the old Saxon Shore fort at Anderitum.

By the time Uther’s army arrived, Ælle had already taken the fort. Uther had fallen ill during the journey, and died soon thereafter. Rumors circulated that the Saxons had employed a witch to aid their siege and strike down Pendragon with illness. Caius Hectorius swore to take revenge on the witch, so Lugh Striking-Hand and Badiovirus agreed to join him on his quest. Together they rode to the territory of the Regenses to find the witch and slay her to avenge Uther Pendragon.

Lugh found her hut in the forest first. The witch was beautiful. She begged Lugh to protect her from his friends. Lugh returned to them, telling them there was no witch, and not to harass a poor woman living by herself in the woods. Enraged, Caius challenged Lugh. They agreed on Peredur as an impartial and observant judge. Just as Caius was about to strike a killing blow, Peredur called the match, saying that the witch had clearly ensorcelled Lugh. Caius and Badiovirus rode into the wood, found the hut, and slew the witch.

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Camulod

493 AD

For over 20 years, Ambrosius Aurelianus has reigned as Rex Romanorum of the Britains. For the entirety of that time, he has waged a long, grueling war against the Saxons. The king grows old, though, and can no longer carry on the war himself. He has recently appointed a Trinovantian prince named Aulus Hectorius as his magister militum. Aulus has a plan to end the war: reconstitute the post of the Comes Britanniarum with a cavalry force able to respond to raiders anywhere in the country. The call has gone out to the kings of Britain, to send their greatest knights to Camulod.

Aulus’s brother, Caius Hectorius, is hostile to many of his brother’s Pelagian ideals, including his round table, but nothing is more important than family. At that table, Aulus planned his first strike with his brother. They decided to strike at the Wash, separating Winta and his sympathizers in Lindum from his kinsmen, Frioðulf, Frealaf, and Finn, in Icenia. Once separated, they would need to drive them all out of the island. Aulus left his brother in charge of training the men, to make sure they were ready for the campaign ahead.

Badiovirus arrived with his warband, including the young Peredur, and met Aulus. Lugh Striking-Hand arrived shortly thereafter, escorting Gwenhwyfar, Aulus’s betrothed. Gwenhwyfar instructed Lugh to join Aulus’s army. Caius tried to get the newly arrived warbands to train together, but Badiovirus objected to his intent, and Lugh refused to take commands from Caius unless instructed to do so first by Aulus himself. Badiovirus suggested that they test their resolve together in actual combat. To the east lay the kingdom of the Belgae, whose king, Caratacus Strongarm, had betrayed the Britons by making common cause with the Saxons — or so many Britons believed, including Badiovirus.

The knights found a tiny village of Saxons. They rode in, routed their warriors, and set their village ablaze. Lugh captured a slave, and they left only children alive, running into the woods for their life. When they returned to Camulod, they were met by Aulus, but when they told him about their adventure, the commander was not pleased. He said that Caratacus was a client of Ambrosius Aurelianus, and subject to his protection. On the eve of his campaign, they may have sparked a war.

The feast to welcome Gwenhwyfar to Camulod was already beginning, so Aulus told them to go to the feasting hall, and that he would deal with Caratacus in a few days’ time. He took the slave Lugh had captured, intending to offer her to Caratacus as a gift. During the feast, Badiovirus tried to flirt with Lugh. Lugh deflected his advances by pointing him to Aedan, a handsome prince in his warband. While Badiovirus and Aedan went off, Peredur got so drunk that he tried to flirt with Gwenhwyfar. Instead, he simply threw up on her. Gwenhwyfar told Lugh to fight him for her honor. Lugh beat him soundly in front of the whole assembly, forcing Peredur to beg her forgiveness. Gwenhwyfar instructed Peredur to serve Lugh as one of his warband.

A few days later, Caratacus came to Camulod. Caius took responsibility for the attack, and so Caratacus asked for his execution. Badiovirus, enraged by a Briton working with the Saxons as much as his request for Caius’s death, lost his temper and berated the king in the Saxon language. Lugh challenged Caratacus to join with Aulus in his war. Caratacus accepted, joining Aulus’s army personally, along with his gesith of 20 West Saxon warriors.

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Glein

The first battle was at the mouth of the river called Glein…

Aulus Hectorius rides with his army from Camulod along the old Roman road, towards the Fens. On the marsh’s western edge, he plans to strike, separating the revolt that Winta is leading in Lindum from Icel in Icenia.

Content Not Found: badiovirus_ scouts out a good location for battle, and finds one: a bend in the River Glein, near two hills that the cavalry can use to charge. Unfortunately, Badiovirus doesn’t notice the Saxons who ambush him. He manages to kill one, but the other defeats him, dragging him off to his ealdorman, _Content Not Found: paega.

When Badiovirus does not return, Aulus sends Caius Hectorius and Lugh Striking-Hand to find what happened to him. They seek out a Saxon village, where they meet an ealdorman named Content Not Found: willelm. He sends his nephew, Ælfwine, to aid them as a tracker. Ælfwine doesn’t speak much Latin, but when Willelm explains the situation to them, he realizes what the best location would be, and leads them to the same location Badiovirus found. There, they find the trail, and Ælfwine leads them to Pæga’s village. Lugh throws a rope into the feasting hall for Badiovirus to escape, while Caius rides into the center of the village, offering battle. They all manage to escape, but not before Caius and Pæga both leave their marks on one another.

Back at camp, a discussion begins about how to draw out the Saxons. Badiovirus says that there are no loyal villages, only those waiting for the right time to strike; they should burn them all out now, and gather their enemies together. Lugh, impressed by the example he saw of Willelm today, argues that they should seek allies where they can find them. Lugh calls on Myrddin, who tells the story of the insurrection Ælle led in this region, and how Uther Pendragon’s response made it grow, leading to one of Ælle’s greatest victories — only when Lucius Adeodatus went from ealdorman to ealdorman to rekindle old family bonds did the Saxons turn on Ælle and cast him out of the land. Ultimately, Lugh prevails. Lugh and Caius, with Badiovirus and Caratacus Strongarm (because they can speak the Saxon language), are to ride out to the Saxon villages the next morning to call for all the Saxon ealdormen to meet Aulus. They expect that this will draw out the ones loyal to Winta to attack Aulus.

That night, Lugh and Badiovirus, and their warbands, drink together. Caratacus joins them, and tells them about his kingdom. They ask, if Britons and Saxons are equals in his kingdom, why is his warband made up entirely of Saxons? Caratacus tells them that in his kingdom, the Britons are the civilians, and the Saxons are the army. The Belgae, he says, are not wild and warlike, like Lugh’s northern tribe, the Votadini. He claims the southern tribes are not good warriors. He points to the Cantiaci as an example, saying they were cowardly to surrender Ceint to the Saxons. Badiovirus challenges Caratacus to a duel to defend the honor of his tribe. When the duel starts to look like it may result in serious harm to one (or both) of them, Lugh sparks a general brawl among the watching warbands, giving Caius a good excuse to intervene and break it up.

Later that night, the camp is attacked by Saxons. The battle is general chaos, with heavy casualties. Lugh finds the leader of the attack, an ealdorman named Content Not Found: wulfric, and slays him in battle. They discover a larger Saxon force nearby, but manage to defend the camp. Aulus realizes that they will attack at first light. Determined to control the ground for the confrontation, he has Badiovirus guide the army, in the night, to the location he scouted before. Before leaving, Badiovirus booby-traps the campsite.

The next day, the rest of the Saxon army meets Aulus and his force at the location Badiovirus scouted. The cavalry charge breaks their line, and the river impedes their retreat. The rebellious ealdormen are killed, and the remaining Saxons pledge their loyalty to Aulus.

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The Wild Man of the Elms

488 AD

Tales of the Wild Man of the Elms, a mysterious savage who lived in the elm forests near the Wall, by the Ituna Aestuarium (Solway Firth), attracted Titus to the area, hoping to earn glory by hunting and slaying the beast-man. When he finally found the creature, he discovered he was a prince of Rheged named Owain, plagued by gwyllt. Years before, while delivering supplies to Concavata, he was attacked by a band of Pictish raiders led by a warlord named Kaw. The trauma drove Owain mad. He fled into the woods and became the storied Wild Man. When Titus discovered this, he decided to take Owain home, but others had set out to hunt the Wild Man, too. One of them was King Lot’s daughter, Minura. Titus found her before she found Owain, seduced her, and convinced her to capture the Wild Man, rather than kill him. When Minura brought her prize back to Din Eidyn, Lot recognized the prince of Rheged, and assigned his son Lugh Striking-Hand to take Owain home and help him recover from his madness.

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The Shadows of Din Tagell

489 AD

Titus returned home to Dumnonia from Ireland with a band of loyal Irish fighters, and a dozen different stories as to why they followed him. He wasn’t back long before Gerontius tried to recruit him for the struggle against Marcus Cunomorus. Titus’s hatred for his father, one of Cunomorus’s most trusted commanders, made him easy to persuade. Gerontius asked Titus to kill Gauorignus, a Dumnonian sub-king loyal to Cunomorus.

Gauorignus lived in Din Tagell, an impregnable fortress on the kingdom’s northern coast. Oddly, Owain arrived at Gerontius’s villa that very night, traveling from Rheged to share a vision that he’d had with Titus. That vision inspired Titus to attack Gauorignus from a different angle: seducing Gauorignus’s lover, Rosula. Rosula, convinced that if she killed Gauorignus that she and Titus could have a future together, did just that, but Titus was long gone by then, returned to Gerontius to collect his payment.

Gauorignus’s son, Bellatus, captured Rosula, tortured her until she confessed to everything, and then had her executed. He set out to hunt down Titus to take his revenge. Badiovirus had come to Dumnonia to seek Gerontius’s help in the fight against the Saxons. He employed many of them himself, which made Badiovirus nervous, but he also controlled one of the largest fleets in Britain, a vital resource in the war against the sea-borne Saxons. He stepped in between Titus and Bellatus, convincing them that they needed to set aside their squabbles and focus on the threat to them all posed by the Saxon invaders. Bellatus only relented when Badiovirus bested him in combat. Though no longer actively hunting him, Titus knows he has a sworn enemy in Din Tagell, one who schemes to one day take his revenge.

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The Twin Giants

490 AD

The Roman road between Olenacum and Verbaia in Brigantian territory was always one of the most dangerous in the island, not only because of the difficult geography it crossed, but because of the Brigantes themselves, who, when not in full revolt, often occupied themselves with raiding and brigandry. Owain, prince of Rheged, a kingdom only a day’s ride north of this road, sent a message to Uther Pendragon, advising him to send his son Caius Hectorius with a patrol along this road, claiming that he had seen in a vision that Caius would “slay a giant and find a hero.”

When Caius arrived in Verbaia, he immediately heard stories of a giant called Butu, a brigand who robbed anyone who tried to take the road. Caius took the road, determined to put an end to Butu’s menace. He was prepared for an ambush, but he did not expect that “Butu” was actually not one, but two brigand leaders, each with their own gang. Caius was trapped, attacked on both sides. It was Titus’s timely intervention with his Irish fighters who saved Caius and his men that day. They defeated the Butu brothers. Caius took the head of one to hang from the gates of Olenacum, while Titus took the other back to Verbaia.

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Icenia

Owain Rheged waited with the Wailing Arrows in Durobrivae, as commanded by his master, Myrddin, where he met Titus and his Irish warriors, come to take advantage of the Saxon insurrection in Lindum. Aulus Hectorius arrived shortly thereafter with his army. Myrddin welcomed Owain and his horse archers to the ranks, and Titus offered his services as well.

The next morning, the army road out, following the Roman road east into Icenia. While camping that night, Peredur noticed signal fires being lit, and deduced that Saxon scouts must be tracking them, and alerting their comrades of their movements.

In the morning, they found out why: the Saxons had built a huge earthwork cutting across the road, stretching for miles in either direction. A hundred Saxon warriors stood at the top of the earthwork, forming a shield wall. Lugh Striking-Hand and his men dismounted and began scrambling up the earthwork to attack the northern flank, while Titus’s Irish warriors attacked the southern flank. Caius joined his brother on a charge against the center. The Saxons had put everything in their favor, playing to every weakness of the cavalry force Aulus had mustered. They repulsed the charge against their center. On the southern flank, Titus lost control of his men, and the Saxons slaughtered them all. On the northern flank, Lugh had more success, as Peredur led some of Lugh’s men to run down some fleeing Saxons, but Aulus’s failure to break the center of the line forced them to retreat.

The retreat left Peredur on the wrong side of the enemy line, and his pursuit of the fleeing Saxon warriors left him deep in enemy territory before he realized that Aulus had lost the battle. At the camp, Titus questioned Aulus’s leadership. Caius became irritated with Titus, not for questioning Aulus, but for doing so loudly and publicly, ending in Caius knocking Titus out. Lugh began recruiting volunteers for a grand expedition in the morning to rescue Peredur. Myrddin, fearing that Lugh would not have the subtlety for such a task and may invite further disaster, asked Content Not Found: badiovirus to undertake a rescue mission that night and be back with Peredur before morning — and, if possible, scout out the road ahead. Myrddin suspected that they would likely face other earthworks further down the road.

Badiovirus and the Fraternitas did find Peredur and the warriors he’d led, feeling triumphant for their part in the fight. Together, they scouted the road ahead, and discovered a second earthwork further down the road. Both stretched for miles, ending only where the terrain became marshy, where the horses would become bogged down and infantry — like the Saxons — would have the advantage.

In the morning, Titus confronted Aulus about his tactical decisions. Myrddin agreed with him that they should not try a conventional attack a second time, but suggested something even more unorthodox than Titus had in mind: settle the affair with a duel, playing on Icel’s family history to bind him in a sacred oath of non-aggression.

Badiovirus and Peredur returned to camp with the dawn. Badiovirus reported Peredur’s successes to Aulus, who was about to give him his own warband to command, when Lugh offered him his own warriors, the ones he had led at the earthwork. Badiovirus and Peredur then set out immediately again to find and kill the Saxon scouts following the army.

When they returned to camp, they found Ælle in the camp. He had come to offer to act as an intermediary between Aulus and Icel, to help arrange a meeting. In return, he asked Aulus to make him Comes litoris Saxonici — the Count of the Saxon Shore. Aulus agreed.

Myrddin gathered the knights and told them about a sword called Caliburn. It came from a time when steel weapons were very rare, so they called this sword “hard edge,” Caledfwlch, or Caliburn. It was the sword of a Catuvellauni chieftain named Cassivellaunus. When Julius Caesar invaded Britain, Cassivellaunus united the tribes to stand against him. His sword became the symbol of British unity against the invader. When Cassivellaunus surrendered to Caesar, he presented the sword to him, and it became the sword of Julius Caesar, father of the Roman Empire. It was returned to Rome, and there it stayed for half a century. Then, a descendant of Julius Caesar, the Emperor Claudius, launched the final invasion of Britain. When he succeeded, he had his ancestor’s sword brought to Camulodunum, where a temple was erected to his victory, and placed it there as a symbol of Roman power. So, a few years later, when the Iceni queen Boudicca rebelled against the Romans and sacked Camulodunum, she took that sword, and offered it to Andraste, the goddess of victory, by throwing it into a lake. Thus, Caliburn had become a symbol of unified defiance against foreign invaders to the Britons, a symbol of the ancient glories of the empire to the Romans, a sword dedicated to the goddess of victory, the Lady of the Lake. Aulus’s duel with Icel had moved the battle from the earthworks, where the Saxons had built their advantage, to symbols and stories. There, the knights would need to build Aulus’s advantage — by finding Caliburn.

Owain had a vision of a giant bear roaring, overlooking a town. When he shared that with his fellow knights, they reasoned that it must mean the town of the Iceni, their civitas capital, Venta Icenorum. So, they rode out to Venta.

There, the knights met with Lucius Adeodatus, king of the Iceni and Count of the Saxon Shore. They asked for the location of any witches in the territory, who might know the places sacred to the ancient pagans. Adeodatus had ordered the execution of every witch he knew of, so he had none to offer, but promised to send his men to look for one. Lugh also asked to speak with any warriors he had who might have seen Icel fight personally. He did have a few, all Saxons themselves. From their descriptions, Lugh gleaned some insights into Icel’s fighting style. Impressed by his hospitality and generosity, Lugh told Adeodatus that Aulus planned to give his position to Ælle. Adeodatus said that it was his duty as Aulus’s lieutenant to provide him with another option. He decided to seek out an ealdorman who’d sided with Icel, who might still owe him enough loyalty to at least let him talk to the Anglian king.

Meanwhile, Titus found Paullus Hostilius, the commander of Branodunum, and disappointed with the influence and power the Saxons have gained under Adeodatus. When Titus told him that Aulus planned to place Ælle in charge of the Saxon Shore, they began a scheme to raise an insurrection among the fort commanders to make Hostilius the new Count.

Peredur decided to hit the streets and see what he could learn. He had locals speaking of a demonic bear plaguing the countryside. Owain thought that his vision must point to this bear. The other knights decided to join in the hunt. They found signs of it easily enough in the woods, for it was a very large bear. They tracked it to its den, at the side of a lake. Caius charged into the cave. Together, the knights brought the bear down. In the back of its den, they found an ancient Celtic longsword, very similar to the spathae they wield. Deciding that this must be Caliburn, they took the sword and returned to Aulus’s camp.

Lugh had time to give Aulus a few dueling lessons before Icel arrived with Ælle — and the head of Lucius Adeodatus. The ealdorman that Adeodatus thought might still be loyal to him, wasn’t, and it cost him his life. Aulus challenged Icel to a duel: if Aulus won, Icel would never attack the Britons again; and if Icel won, Aulus would recognize him as king of Icenia. To bind the terms of the duel, Myrddin laid Caliburn on a stone altar. By ancient British tradition, only the victor could draw the sword from the stone, and it would forever symbolize the oaths that bound them.

The duel began. Each of the knights contributed in their own way — cheering for Aulus, praying for him, analyzing Icel’s fighting stance and shouting out their suggestions, or controlling the crowd. Together, they gave Aulus the edge, allowing him to defeat Icel and draw the sword from the stone.

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