Elspeth’s Journal – An account of the Gatherings of 1092 to 1094

After the events that took place during the Gathering held in Erin in the year 1094, I feel I must put pen to paper to in some way chronicle the happenings at that event and some of the history that led to these deeds.
I am Elspeth Karlennon, currently Regent to Lord General Elias Karlennon, Keeper of Eaton and my son. There are those who would, I have no doubt, dispute my account but what I tell has in most part been personally witnessed by me, or has been told to me by others whose word cannot be doubted. The Master Colour Mages and the Grand Master Mage himself have told me most of what I did not witness.

I begin my account at the Gathering held in Eaton, the year 1092. My dear husband, Elias, was hosting this Gathering held near the Wellspring of Life, a most powerful ritual circle.

The event started well and peacefully. The usual border disputes were to be discussed but with the ritual of peace in place all was at least on the surface friendly. Even Duke Desmond D’Arby of Roe appeared to have finally put aside his jealousy of my husband (at one time Desmond had hoped to take me for his wife). Schadel of Manaheim now a famed and revered vampire hunter was present and this was fortuitous because we were told of vampires at the Gathering. I saw Schadel on the Sunday morning and informed my husband of his presence that he may be asked to deal with the foul Unliving. This was the last time I saw my husband alive.

Shortly after telling my husband of Schadel’s presence I was given a message that a young servant from the castle was at a nearby village and was having a most difficult delivery. The poor child was unmarried and I had sent her to “study” with a herbalist friend of mine since she was most concerned that her family did not find out. I knew that it was before her due time and fearing that the girl would be alone but for the old herbalist, I agreed to go to her at once.
Since my husband was now involved in another matter I took Celadore my household mage with me and we hired a group of adventurers to accompany us to her, leaving a message for Elias. We ran across a few brigands as one would expect around the place of the Gathering, but the adventurers fought off everything well. As we neared his abode I saw Hastel the Herbalist coming towards me, he was asking me to hurry since Caitlin was in great need. And then everything became unreal and distant. I know I was led away for sometime but then I remember nothing more for a period that I am told was as much as one week.

Meanwhile back at the Gathering somebody who looked exactly like me was committing murder, the victim was Master Indigo Mage, Alam Harlis. Having done the deed the assassin calmly walked up the field and vanished.
I understand that during this foul murder someone stole the Quarter of Earth, causing a hurricane to cause devastation to the area.

My husband was now placed on trial for what appeared to be my misdeed. Of the Lord Generals present, half were in Elias’ favour, half against. Therefore it was decided that a trial by combat would take place the following day. Unfortunately due to the theft of the Quarter of Earth, Grand Master Mage, Floris Ilias, was unable to renew the ritual of peace that eve, thus those who took the field would be in mortal danger.
As battle commenced, my Uncle Lord General Corvus commanded the side for my husband, there was a great slaughter but my uncle was victorious. My dearest Elias was proven free from all guilt but as cheers were being given he was callously and cowardly struck from behind, while his bodyguards were distracted. His head was hewn from his shoulders and taken by his slayers. Thus on Monday 31 August 1092 Lord General Elias Karlennon, Keeper of Eaton, my beloved husband, was murdered and I was not there or even aware of it.

Much happened to me during the next year. When I came to my senses, September was proceeding well. I had been held captive for close to one month in a rude forest hut, I had begun planning my escape but was much hindered by a weakness and sickness for most of the time. I suspected I was being slowly poisoned. I know different now as my infirmity was the result of my early pregnancy. One cold and damp evening I heard a scuffle outside, then obvious sounds of fighting, the door burst open and there stood Brogar Gruss of Scow, a merchant from the south of Albion, and my rescuer. I remember little of the details of our journey but Brogar conveyed me with great care and much solicitude to a warm and friendly farm where I was allowed to gather my strength and where I began to suspect the real reason for my infirmity. After a few days we left by ritual circle to the Keep of Marchwood, to the south of Albion. Once there, Brogar told me of the events of the Gathering and the death of Elias. He advised me to remain with him safe and hidden at least until I was properly well and able to defend myself.

This proved to be sound advice. I was unwell throughout my pregnancy and was close to losing the babe on more than one occasion. But Brogar saw that I was well cared for and the year turned, winter became spring and spring turned towards summer. Brogar brought me reports that all was well in Eaton and that the Gathering was to be held in Norhault, Eaton’s neighbour.

I had hoped to go at once to my Uncle Corvus once I was delivered of the babe but this proved impossible. On 19th May 1093 after a lying in of 2 days I was finally delivered of a son, named for the father who will never. The birth had been hard on both of us and it was July before I could even consider travelling. Even then it would not have been wise.

Brogar counselled to wait until the Gathering and then seek the protection of my uncle or Grand Master Floris Ilias. He told me that a friend of his, a ritualist, would soon come to stay at Marchwood and when the time came he would convey us all to the ritual circle at the Gathering in Norhault.

By this time a second Quarter of Magic had been stolen from Grand Master Floris Ilias.

So the Friday of the Gathering of 1093 dawned. I had not seen much of Brogar’s friend, he kept to his own wing in the Keep, but I saw him that day. At least I saw his body but his features he kept hidden, a vow he said. He spoke softly and with courtesy but was cool and distant, even with his own ritual group. In the evening we were due to travel so I made sure Elias was well rested and fed. I had decided to judge the mood of my uncle and see how I was to be treated before revealing Elias’ identity. It was almost a year since the death of my husband and there was little time to risk my claim being disputed.
At last the appointed hour arrived, we were all cloaked and hooded so as to arrive incognito. Brand, the ritualist, performed his ritual with competence I have rarely seen, and in the twilight we arrived at the Gathering in a quiet spot in the woods so as not to cause alarm. As we made our way to the main arena I held Brogar’s arm, unsure of where we were heading; suddenly in the middle of the trader’s area Brand signalled us to stop. All at once he shouted for Grand Master Floris Ilias to come forward. He then declaimed Floris as a deceiver since he only had two of the four Quarters in his possession, and then Brand, the person whose protection I was under, challenged my old friend Grand Master Floris Ilias for the title of Grand Master Mage!

However, my apprehension was unjustified. Later in the evening Brogar took his leave of me and said that Brand was shortly take me to Floris. I met with Floris, thanks to Brand’s escort, and he assured me that he would arrange a trial for the next day and found me an escort to the Lion’s Camp and therefore to my Uncle Corvus. My uncle welcomed me with open arms, as did Duke Desmond who suggested that the Knights of the Dark Sun would act as escort for me. I so wanted them to know of Elias and tell Corvus that he was a Great Uncle again but fear for the morrow’s trial and the reaction of those I had not counted friends stayed my tongue. I was then conveyed to a quiet camp for the evening, safe under the protection of the Dark Sun’s valiant knights.

The next day I was asked to enter the ritual circle to be adjudged by a Truth Ritual. I entered willingly for I was free from all guilt and I fully trusted Floris Ilias. The ritual proved my innocence to the satisfaction of those present. However, as Floris announced the result, Jessica, a one-time retainer at Eaton cried out claiming that the rights of the Keeper of Eaton belonged to her son Jaspar. She screamed that my husband had fathered the lad and had recognised him. I knew that Elias had been known to dally before our wedding (he was some years older than I) but I knew nothing of Jessica or her son. But matters were taken out of my hand – trial by combat for Jaspar’s “right” was being called for and I found myself calling for a champion. Sir Bartholomew, one of the Knights of the Dark Sun stepped forward.

As we approached the duelling circle I was suddenly inundated with friends, my loyal mage Celadore fell to his knees before me -he had searched for 3 days for trace of me before giving up the last year and still felt guilt at my disappearance. Countess Ailish O’Donovan, one of Duke Desmond’s high-ranking servitors, was at my side offering her support. Then, as we gathered around the circle, my younger brother Hugo found me – I had not seen him for five years, since he went off to fight in foreign wars.

Everything was becoming too much for me, after all the worry, suddenly to have this forced upon me. The fight started and it soon became clear that Bartholomew was the more experienced, but just when it seemed that he was going to inflict the final blow, Jessica pointed behind him and invoked a spell! Jaspar did not miss the moment for he spun and cut Bartholomew’s neck through.

I could barely breathe. I knew that if Elias had indeed formally recognised Jaspar as his heir he would have told Lord Corvus – he would not have been secretive about it – yet it seemed that Jaspar had won. And then there was Floris and my uncle discussing something gravely and suddenly Jaspar was kneeling at my feet renouncing his victory since his mother had intervened and made the fight unfair. Jessica was then dragged towards us. She was very deranged and I held out my hand to her in forgiveness, which she feared to take.

I then looked down at Jaspar, a youth of about 17 years of age, and I saw Elias’ eyes looking up at me and I knew then that he was Elias’ son, and I also knew that I could not and would not acknowledge him as such until my son had been accepted as Keeper of Eaton. Corvus told me that Jaspar must be banished but I bid him attend my camp once he had seen to the welfare of his mother. Poor Jaspar was most distressed by her ignoble deed on his behalf.
Later on Jaspar asked to pledge himself to my service. This I accepted gladly and he became my bodyguard.

On the Sunday “my” investiture as Keeper of Eaton was planned. When called by Grand Master Floris Ilias, I entered the main arena with my woefully small entourage, Hugo, Jaspar, Celadore and my old friend Lady Matilda Rose, the wet-nurse, carried Elias under her cloak.

The Lord Generals present were all asked in turn if they accepted me as Lord General of Eaton. They all agreed. Finally, Floris turned to me. He asked if I knew of any reason why I should not be granted the Lands and Titles of Eaton. It was the most bittersweet moment of my life. I so wanted my dear husband to still be at my side to see the son he never knew about, but I cannot but remember with pride the look on their faces as I declared my son, the son of Lord General Elias Karlennon to be his heir. “Well done, niece” cried my Uncle Corvus.

None there questioned Elias’ right and I was named as Regent until his majority. I was now able to return to my home, to start rebuilding and to raise my fatherless child. It seemed that my trials were over.

Whilst this had been going on it had been decided that there would be a battle the next day to decide who should be Grand Master Magician, Floris Ilias, or Brand. The sides were drawn up and in deference to my new position, I was asked to declare for one or another. I obviously joined my uncle. I decided that for the honour of my son I had to take the field the next day.

However, before the battle I was asked to represent Corvus at the ritual circle to give an answer to a Death Knight. Later on the Sunday night I found myself, along with representatives from the other factions, standing in the ritual circle defying this powerful Unliving. How I wished my husband was still with me.

By the morning of the battle Squire Sordelan had found me and re-pledged his allegiance to the Karlennon House. So it was that I took the field with the most balanced unit of the day. We had a fighter, Jaspar, a scout, Sordelan, a mage, Celadore, and of course I am a healer. We conducted ourselves with honour, saving the banner of the Winter Wolves twice, and capturing Baron Lachlan of the Dragons. As is better recorded in other histories, my uncle won the day, fighting for Floris Ilias but during the battle a thief stole the remaining two Quarters of Magic from Floris, thus forcing him to resign his position.

Before he left Floris warned that we must all unite under Brand as Grand Master or risk being overcome by the Death Knight and his master. With this warning ringing in our ears, the camp broke up and I returned home with my son.
The following year was lonely and difficult. My son’s lands had been quite well looked after during my absence but much had been neglected, including the close monitoring of the Wellspring of Life, the most powerful ritual circle. This means that the next disruption will now not be so easy to predict. But life must continue and I began rebuilding the household and fighting force of Eaton.

Then, at the end of June, the summons to the “Parliament of the Lions” came from my uncle. I expected nothing unusual for before each Gathering the Parliament is held. However, we were to learn of something very grave, of the betrayal of a Lord of Albion and gross treason of another and both of these Lords I had counted friends.

In brief, it transpired that Brogar had been the one to steal the Quarters of Magic – he had lately come into possession of all of them. They had affected his mind such that he was compelled to make full confession of his crimes. He had been working with and for Duke Desmond D’Arby of Roe. They had arranged my abduction in 1092; they had caused my double to kill Alam Harlis. They had caused the reason for there to be a battle and they had therefore killed my husband.
This information had been passed to Corvus by Floris and was therefore indisputable. It seemed that Brogar’s mind had been broken by the contact with the four Quarters and Floris said he was under punishment enough. As to Duke Desmond, he had been unable to attend the Parliament, pleading family business, but had sent Countess Ailish O’Donovan in his stead. Poor Ailish was so upset by this revelation, I think that without the word of Floris she would not have been able to accept it as true. I was with her there for a while. I did not doubt Floris in any way in my heart I so wished it not to be true.

Duke Anree, Keeper of Norhault was given the warrant to arrest D’Arby, and the Dark Sun leader Sir Guilleme de Bruges was charged to help.

Also at this time Corvus announced that Sir Roger de Coverly, a Knight of Albion had allowed a Dragonmoot to be held on his lands near Cymrija and thus was to be stripped of all title and rank within Albion. Corvus was planning an invasion of Cymrija, which was to take place while we all met for the Gathering in Erin, and he was now due to start his invasion in Coverly’s ex-lands. He did not intend to be too gentle with the populace. I confess to being unhappy with this invasion for I could see no good reason for it, other than Corvus’ personal glory, but I am ashamed to admit that at that time I was too much in awe of my uncle to raise an objection.

We returned home after the Parliament to prepare for the journey to Erin for the Gathering of 1094 hosted by Lord General Figmentus of the Dragons Faction.

So the Gathering began much in its usual fashion. Most people on openly friendly terms although with the obvious exception of Lord Corvus and Fig whose animosity is well known. On Friday afternoon most of the group leaders within the Lions Faction re-swore their allegiance to Lord General Corvus as the leader of the Council of Albion. During this oath-giving, Duke Anree and Sir Bedivere were heard to swear to their ‘liege’. Few I think noticed this. Captain Tiamat of the Wolverines surely did, as did Countess Ailish for we all exchanged glances. This was the first indication of what was to come. But at that time none of us realised just what my uncle and his consort were planning.

Other matters were progressing, the Steppe Alliance were preparing for a ritual which would save the land from a great foe. They had plans to combat the Death Knight and its master Satuun. They planned to summon a presence, which would tell them how they must combat the foul Unliving. They requested that many people attend to witness and add strength to their ritual.

The details of the ritual are fully chronicled elsewhere, but as the Mongols left the arena a group from the Lions Faction entered the arena dragging a prisoner. They declared that Corvus had decreed that the man be executed for conducting raids within Albion. At this Lord General Figmentus stepped forward and claimed his authority over this prisoner as we were in Erin. He forbade the Lions’ men to carry out any sentence. He cried for Corvus to stand forward and explain himself. In the absence of my Uncle I stood forward to confront Fig.

I defended Corvus’ right to dispense justice over offences committed in Albion. However Fig would not back down from his rights as host. In fairness, Lord Fig was reasonable. There was no need for Corvus to have caused such an open display in defiance of the spirit of the Gathering. But honour having apparently been satisfied on both sides, Lord Fig agreed to talk to Corvus on the matter and contrary to all my expectations Lord Fig proved himself to be a gentleman by openly apologising for his brusque manner. I do believe that reports about Lord Fig are quite wrong. It was my first time speaking more than civilities with him and I think I could get along with him well.

Later that evening there was more excitement of a serious nature. I was within the camp of the Hunters, having been speaking with Duke Calin as he had hurriedly rushed to the Gathering to take over from Desmond. All of a sudden there was uproar in the Mongol’s camp next to ours. I sent guards over and rushed to see what was happening: the Death Knight had attacked their camp

By the time most of the Lions had mobilised it was over. Several people seemed unsure over whether it had been the Death Knight so I made sure that I would be informed immediately should it return. I was confident that I would remember the feel of the vile thing myself, having confronted it in 1093.

Later it appeared that Sir Manwynadden, one of the Dark Sun Knights, had disappeared during the Death Knight’s attack.

A lot happened at once then. Zircon, one of the Hunters, informed me that a strange creature had been seen wandering the camp. It appeared to be Unliving. Therefore, as soon as the report was made that this creature was entering our camp I was escorted to view it to judge if it be the Death Knight.

All at once there was a great crush of people and I was separated from my bodyguard. Some woman thrust a box into my hands and then to my horror I saw the “creature”. Yes, it was Unliving. He wore armour and weapons of my late husband and our house colours. I was rooted to the spot. Somebody, Celadore I think, tried to pull me out of the way but I was quite paralysed. The box was removed from my lifeless grasp. Then the ghost came to me. While he wore a helmet there was a void inside it and I could see two glowing red dots where his eyes should have been. He grasped my arms and the pain was so great I felt as though my life was being pulled away and I knew for certain that this was indeed Elias’ ghost. He was trying to tell me something. I could feel his frustration and terrible anguish, even through my pain, but I could not understand him. Finally, I managed to find my voice but I could only cry out in pain. Elias then released me and I would have fallen but for Maroc supporting me. Elias’ shade howled in frustration and left the camp. Jaspar had also tried to understand his father’s ghost but was also unable to do so.

Later on I opened the box I had been given, to reveal a large sum of money left by an old friend who seemingly had good foresight. The next day I was preparing for the trial of Duke Desmond D’Arby when an old friend returned, one who I was most grateful to receive. Schadel of Manaheim greeted me as though I had only seen him yesterday. He was at the Gathering because of concern over the Death Knight, and he told me that he had heard reports that my husband’s ghost had been sighted. Schadel assured me that should Elias re-appear that night they would be able to communicate. That was a great relief to me. I also told Schadel that there had been a void where Elias’ head should have been. Schadel then told me that this was not surprising since he had heard that Elias’ head had been removed from his body and had not been reunited with his body. This was the first time that anybody had told me this. Schadel said that he would do his best to discover the whereabouts of Elias’ head.

But there were other matters to attend to – the trial. My first sight of Desmond was quite a shock. He had not been treated well in custody. I found this surprising knowing Anree, so maybe Desmond was not averse to some dramatisation. My uncle seemed to have decided what was to happen and was giving Desmond little chance to defend himself, and then Floris Ilias came in. He explained that the evidence against Desmond came from Brogar Gruss while under the influence of the four Quarters and thus unable to lie, then he produced Brogar himself, dressed in household Karlennon colours and let Brogar speak. Brogar stated that he had stolen the various books of magic under the orders of Desmond. Brogar also thoroughly incriminated himself; it seems that they are both guilty of Elias’ murder. Brogar at least has tried to help me. But Desmond refused to give in gracefully and seek exile, which I would have pleaded for him. Instead he demanded trial by combat.

Several people were trying to put themselves forward to get Corvus to choose them as champion, Anree, Hugo and Cusack among them, but Jaspar’s hand on my shoulder spoke volumes. The right was his – after all Elias was his father and Jaspar would fight for the family and would win.

Floris Ilias and Brand enchanted a sword each for the combatants. This would make the blows deadly. I hardly watched the fight, and suddenly Desmond was on the ground and Jaspar was staggering and falling to his knees. I rushed forward to cure him. Jonathan half-carried Jaspar back to a seat. I have not had to cure someone close to me for a long time.

Then for a reason I do not understand, my uncle suddenly demanded that the body of Desmond be beheaded and this head should be paraded around the other factions. The Hunters who had been about to carry off the body stopped in their tracks and began to form a protective ring around the body. Quickly I spoke to Corvus and begged him not to do this and thankfully he relented. But then an even worse situation arose.

In the absence of Duke Calin, Countess Ailish spoke for the Hunters requesting to re-pledge their allegiance to Corvus and distance themselves from their former leader’s now proven guilt. Corvus, however, would not accept the Countess’ pledge; he bid her return to the Hunters and their allied groups to ensure the whole group felt the same. Although obviously distressed by his treatment Ailish had no choice but to agree to do this.

Soon a large group was gathered in our side of the camp. It was felt that Corvus was planning something, possibly even to attempt some claim on the crown. I wish now that more careful note of who attended had been made but to my recollection those present included Duke Anree, Captain Jaddvor Erland of the Guard, Cusack Corvus’ champion and Wielder of Albion one of the Swords of Waylund. There were several within the Hunters alliance there also, representatives from the Scum, the Pizzens and the Watchers of Darkwood. I am fairly sure that at least one of the Knights of the Dark Sun was also there as well as Captain Tiamat of the Wolverines who had just pledged his group to me since he was previously pledged to Desmond, not to the Hunters.

Without going into full details, it was the general consensus that we all supported Lord Corvus as leader of the Council of Albion but not if he should decide to declare himself King. Cusack stated this while holding the sword Albion that he claimed prevented him from telling falsehoods. Duke Anree had remained silent so I spoke to him privately. He was a most unhappy man, he had pledged himself to Corvus personally but said that he would not support any claim for the crown that Corvus attempted.

It seemed then that the Lions were united behind Corvus but not if he was to attempt to claim the Throne of Albion. The Hunters alliance was also clear on this. They were fully in support of my uncle, just not as King.
But other things were pressing. The contest between Brand and Floris Ilias was due. I left the others to re-pledge to my Uncle and went to witness the outcome.

On the field outside the ritual circle I met an old friend, the Matron Mother of the Black Kyte, an albino drow family who had sheltered Elias and me the previous year. While we were happily discussing trivialities, a messenger, Void I think, came from the camp.

Knowing full well that a large number of us were not in camp my uncle had asked Lord Wolf for a large number of his White Wolves to keep the peace and had declared himself King!

While obviously this was not completely unexpected, it came as a severe shock even so. It seemed that the Hunters’ Ritualist Annias was in the camp with Baron Tarn when Corvus had had his aberration. They had quickly sealed our side of the camp and sent runners out. Since the contest for the Grand Mastership was too important to go unwitnessed by those of highest rank, I asked Countess Ailish and Earl Taragon to make haste back and take charge, gather information and, if possible, establish my uncle’s motives. This they did whilst I waited nervously for the start of the contest. It seemed they were delaying the start so that Corvus could attend. Eventually he arrived and I was thankful that he chose the opposite side of the arena to me since I did not wish for a public confrontation.

Finally the contest started, the two claimants entered the tent housing the ritual circle and we waited. Screams were heard from within, both from Floris Ilias and from Brand. Finally, a lone figure emerged, upright but staggering slightly. I held my breath and firmly resolved to follow the Grand Master whichever one was the victor, while praying that it would be Floris Ilias. The cowled figure dropped to his knees and hesitatingly pulled back his hood to reveal the face of Floris Ilias.

I could not wait a moment longer, for I had to return to our camp before my uncle. We all withdrew with undignified haste, and only when it became clear that my uncle was not hurrying did we slow to a sensible pace.

The camp was in some state of turmoil when we arrived. They all knew of the proclamation and I do not believe that a single one was happy about it. Taliesin Steel was most torn. He had personally pledged to Corvus and said that while he did not agree with the decision he would do whatever Corvus commanded. Mountjoy, herald to Corvus, was also unhappy but stated that he must support Corvus but would gladly act as intermediary if required.

As Corvus entered the camp I went to him at once since I wanted to be sure that there was no visible animosity between us. He told me that he had declared himself King because he has effectively been ruler of Albion for some years and he felt that Albion cannot continue without a King and he wishes to be treated on equal footing with the other Faction Leaders.

This last reason I could not understand – the other two at least appeared to have good motive, but the third?

The task then fell to me to try to attempt to talk my uncle Corvus away from his decision. I stressed that all would follow him as the leader of Albion but without Excalibur to point the way to the True Line many felt that we could not follow Corvus should he insist on claiming to be King.

Lady Roxanne was extremely vehement – she kept shouting all down, stating “Corvus is your King”. She insisted that there could be no argument. I pleaded with my uncle to take a title such as Regent of Albion, or Lord Protector, but he would have none of it. Finally, I begged him to at least retain the status quo and say nothing more until we returned home to Albion. He would not listen to reason. I withdrew with Roxanne’s shouts of “He is your King” echoing in my ears.
Using Mountjoy as a go-between, it was decided that nothing formal should be declared between us until the morning. But that night I could not see a way of avoiding some kind of conflict between people of Albion – the unthinkable.
During this time there was a messenger waiting to give us the full story regarding the battle between Floris Ilias and Brand. I had been forced to leave so quickly that I had missed the announcement that Floris Ilias had not actually won. What had happened was that the two contestants had combined somehow. Apparently the duties of the Grand Master Mage are too great for one person and somehow two people end up in the same body. I do not pretend to understand but although the face is that of Floris Ilias, the body is now to be called Floris Brand. We were to call him Floris, the same, but even he seemed a little confused over the change.

But that night our main concern was averting conflict within the Lions camp. Since the White Wolves had been in our camp as peacekeepers, I felt that I should go quickly to speak with Lord Wolf to establish his thoughts, and to assure him that we would still support Corvus should he climb down. They had always been great allies and while I had no fear for my person, I most certainly feared the response.

As always, Lord Wolf was the soul of diplomacy. He was most kind and polite while I explained our position. Eventually, he offered compromise solutions such as for us to accept Corvus as “King Seventis”, after all the return of Excalibur and therefore the re-emergence of the True Line was expected seven years hence. To my regret I had to say that we were unable to accept this, partly because most of the group that I now represented would not accept the title “King” for Corvus at all (unless Excalibur should prove otherwise), but also I now was not certain about my uncle’s firmness of mind. I still could not understand his motives for his false declaration and feared greatly that his mind was afflicted in some way. Even were that so, I had to admit that one, even one as honourable as my uncle had once been, would find great difficulty in disavowing Kingship in seven years should Excalibur point to another. Reluctantly, Lord Wolf agreed with this last point.

Lord Wolf also admitted the distress he felt that his trusted friend Corvus should feel the need to declare himself King. After all, as Wolf said, they had both started as Commanders of small groups and while he lacked the nobility of Corvus’ birth, Lord Wolf said that he had never felt that he needed to style himself King to have equal standing with the other Lords General.

While Lord Wolf did not openly support either Corvus or us, he was placed in a most difficult situation for I felt that his sympathies leant in our direction yet Corvus was a long-standing friend and ally. I was most thankful, therefore, when Wolf agreed to attempt to negotiate a compromise between the split faction of Albion in the morning.

Sunday dawned. With some hope I despatched messengers to ascertain if Lord Wolf’s emissary to Corvus had been a success. Regretfully, it was not. Despite their long friendship it appears that my uncle was not even willing to listen to Lord Wolf. Corvus told him that either he was friend and ally or foe and enemy – there was no possibility of negotiation or compromise. Corvus still refused even to agree to differ until we returned home to Albion.

Lord Wolf informed Corvus that since he could not agree with what he had done, Corvus must now count him as foe. While I was glad for the support of the Wolves, I felt even more that my uncle was no longer in his right mind.
Then other matters took precedence in my thoughts. Schadel had sent me a message that I should meet with him. He told me that the previous night Elias’ ghost had once more roamed this world and he had spoken with Schadel. Elias’ disquiet was indeed caused by his head not lying with his body and we must see to it that his head was returned for Elias to rest peacefully. Schadel also told me that Elias had agreed to be summoned during daylight hours that he might identify the disguised form of the Death Knight, thus enabling the Law Knight to issue a challenge. And Schadel told me that he would enable Elias to communicate with those of flesh and blood for a period. At last I would be able to say farewell to my Lord and husband. This summoning was to take place a few hours after noon.

It then fell to me to speak with my uncle to inform him of the decision of a large proportion of Albion’s people in attendance. However, I found myself most reluctant to impart this news to him. With his mind obviously so unstable, I feared what he might do. Also, at that moment, I received a message from the leader of the Unicorns, Cynewulf, requesting an immediate meeting on a most important matter. Since I could not do both things, I was most relieved when both Countess Ailish and Hugo offered to confront Corvus in my stead. I think that they are both made of sterner stuff than I. I gratefully accepted their offer and it was left to them to inform Lord General Corvus of the Lions Faction that Albion was now split and the Harts of Albion opposed his right to declare himself King utterly. Corvus’ response was to declare that we must consider ourselves to be in a state of Civil War!

My meeting with Cynewulf turned out to be regarding an item once possessed by Brogar, which I was able to help them locate. Also I took the opportunity to discover where the Unicorns stood as regards Corvus’ false Kingship. It seemed that they would stay as neutral as possible until they were more certain of who was likely to win. My conversation with Cynewulf led me to believe that they thought it most likely that Corvus would be victor in the battle, which would now inevitably take place on Monday.