As the summer of 1220 wore on, excitement built amongst the nobles of Périgord with the approaching tournament which was to be sponsored by Achambaud II de Talairand, Count of Périgord, and Hugh “le Brun” de Lusignan, Count of Marche and Aubusson (and by right of his wife Isabel, widow of King John and mother of Henry III, Count of Angoulême). The tournament was to be held at the Château Mourette, manor of Lord Antoine Montagrier, and Lord de Commarque and Sir Jehans des Escars understood they would be expected to attend. Sir Étienne and Sir Gaidon agreed to accompany them.
William was naturally interested in attending, but only the mention of cave paintings lured Melita and Gaston away from the covenant. Lady Agatha journeyed with them, as did Brandon and Giovani and the grogs Broderick, Eadwyn and Thomas.
Those new to the tournament circuit were stunned by the sheer magnitude of the event – hundreds of knights and their retainers were in attendance, and from the heraldry, it was apparent that members of the royal family were in attendance.
A grand feast was held the evening of the group’s arrival, and William was glad to again make the acquaintance of “Lady de Burgh” (in fact, the maga Eglantine of Jerbiton). Lady Agatha was likewise aflutter over once again meeting Bertran de Born lo Filhs, the renowned troubadour. He coaxed her into singing as he played for the assembled crowd, and she awed even the accomplished minstrel with her beautiful voice. Sir Étienne spent his time chatting with the lovely Lady Alix Delcorde, who had accompanied her brother Jean to the tournament. She was so taken with Sir Étienne that she gave him her favor to wear in the next day’s joust.
After the peasants engaged in a mock melee in the morning, the jousting began, and Sir Étienne was the only member of the group to participate. However, he quickly became the talk of the tournament, as he faced opponent after opponent and came away from each tilt as the victor. Murmurs went through the crowd when he defeated Sir Henri de la Rochenoire, a distant cousin to the King, but it was certain the Royal family’s honor would be redeemed when Sir Michel de Bourdaigne, a more grizzled Royal cousin, entered the list against Sir Étienne. However, on the second pass Sir Étienne managed to inflict a grievous wound to Sir Michel, and there was stunned silence as the Royal lay incapacitated and near death. A stricken Sir Étienne withdrew from the contest, and went to stand vigil over his felled opponent. William and Eglantine made their way into the Royal’s tent, and with the aid of some Corpus magic, made Sir Michel’s chance of survival much more likely. By the next morning, he seemed to have turned the corner, and the contingent from Commarque breathed a sigh of relief. William began calculating the chances of parlaying their help into an arranged marriage for Melisandre des Escars...
Meanwhile, Commarque’s reputation was further enhanced when three of its members – Broderick, Eadwyn and Thomas – were the top three participants in the archery contest. Eadwyn’s final, winning shot awed the viewers, as his longbow arrow went halfway through the center of the distant target. For his mastery of the bow, he was awarded a miniature golden arrow, while the others were given small amounts of coin as a prize.
Yet there was considerable consternation the next morning when it was determined that Lady Agatha had not been seen since the night before. Suspicion fell upon the troubadour Sir Bertran, but questioning convinced William that he was guilty only of arranging a late-night rendezvous with her for which she never arrived. Intellego magics proved ineffective at locating her, but Gaston tracked her easily enough after assuming the form of a dog. A short time later, the group from Commarque happened upon some well-hidden caves of the type so prevalent in the area. Entering the caves, the group quickly met with a mysterious locked iron gate.
Challenging anyone beyond, Gaston was sent fleeing by some magic that penetrated his parma magica, and when Étienne shook the gate, a large, menacing figure from the other side put a spear point to his throat. He backed off, and a grotesque, towering figure came out to parlay. Dressed in the manner of a Roman legionnaire, the giant bore a snout and small tusks, but looked otherwise human. He professed to be a Roman named Tarquinius who had been cursed, and claimed even to be a member of the Cult of Mercury! The magi were stunned and perplexed by this figure, who returned Agatha to them unharmed, saying that he had simply been lonely and wanted her company for a few hours. The magi did not know what to make of his story, particularly when he said he had been the Sir Turquine of lore who bested all of Arthur’s knights save Lancelot. At any rate, the group withdrew, and the question of exactly what to tell the Order of their discovery – and when – was hotly debated in a council meeting.
Cast: Gaston, Giovani and Thomas (Guillaume), William and Gaidon d’Aubec (Bob), Brandon (Nick), Sir Étienne and Eadwyn (Dwight), Melita and Lady Agatha (Val).
Alpha Storyguide: Patrick
Experience: Source Quality 6, 2 Confidence Points (3 for Étienne)