A Tale of Perilous Journey

Back in the days of Black Prince Ivar, evil roamed abroad in the lands of Drachenwald and Albion was far from the hearts of the people. The Lady Gwenllian rode along the road to Perilous Journey in search of a patron to swear service to, for a rustic friar told her that she must travel there for her quest. For at that time she was not every yet a squire and had not yet come into her birthright.

The journey so far had been hard. The lands were wild and unkempt. Fell beasts roamed at will and fellow travelers few and far between. Her sword had seen frequent use and lay loose in the sheath. Her shield hung from her saddle within ready reach as her hauberk was rent below her waist by a great wolf who had waylaid her.

The journey ahead did not look any more promising. She had searched the length and breadth of the Principality in search of a Knight wise in the ways of Chivalry and Honor that she could squire to, to learn Knightly ways. But in these dark times only those who courted The Black Prince prospered. So here she journeyed, taking hope from the inebriated words of a cleric. She steeled herself with this thought and urged herself on.

Before long the path rose steeply and became much more rocky. She dismounted to lead her horse. "You won't need that here", said a voice to her left. She spun with her sword out and then checked herself as she saw it was just a hermit.

"Why do you say that?" she asked of him.

He indicated the path ahead. "He will no be of aid to you there."

She looked upon the steepness of the path and saw that this was true. She passed the reigns to him. "You speak rightly. I will entrust him to your care."

As she moved on the bushes continued to grow thickly along the way. First once, then twice, and again a third time her shield caught upon them and proved awkward to disentangle. "You won't need that here" said another voice. Startled, she looked again and there was the hermit, or one very like him, to her side.

"But how am I to be known but by my arms?"

The hermit shook his head. "They will not be of aid to you here." She unstrapped her shield and passed it to him with no further word.

The path beyond became very steep and Gwenllian found herself climbing hand over hand. Her armor, rent by the wolf and heavy with her sweat, was extremely burdensome. She paused to draw breath for a long time upon a ledge. "You won't need that here" said a familiar voice.

She turned without surprise to the hermit. "But... How shall I... Defend..." She began to pant. Realizing the futility she popped the straps of her hauberk, with no little relief, passed it to the hermit and with renewed energy continued on.

The path lead from a cliff face on to a lengthy cave. Many of the passages were very narrow and difficult to pass. Eventually she came upon one passage so twisted that she could not pass through with her sword.

She sighed, turned, and as she was beginning to expect, found there a hermit with a lantern. Without a word she passed him her sword and continued on.

Very quickly the way became easier and the path emerged into a series of shadowy glens along a watercourse hemmed in by walls. Evening had come and a mist had risen. She moved slowly and cautiously in fear of the terrain and what it might conceal.

As she entered a slightly wider glen she caught glimpse of a shadowy figure entering from the other side. She reached for her sword, expecting the worst, but remembered its lack. But looking around she spied a fallen stout stick and also noted that the sand of the stream was loose and dry and a handful might easily blind an opponent. But she chided herself: this was no baton tourney and such churlish tactics were unworthy of the liege she sought.

Instead she decided to announce herself and declaim her lineage, so that if her opponent was educated he might respect her and trouble her not. But she realized that she had left her shield and livery behind. Dressed only in her shift, dirty and muddied as it was, it would not be believed that she was no more than a peasant.

Without her armor she knew she would fall quickly to even the most skill less blade. She shadows tempted her with thoughts of hiding, but surely if she was to die it was better to die honestly in the open instead of being pinned down like an outlaw.

So, lacking all but herself and truth she strode forward to mer whatever adversary this place chose to throw at her. "Greetings stranger" she said in a voice more confident than she felt. "I journey in these lands upon a quest. I know thee not but you are welcome to travel with me if you see the same."

The mist parted before her as she entered the center of the glen and to her surprise she looked upon herself.

"Well spoke", greeted her double in her own voice. "Many who have come here have come only for glory."

"And what did they find" asked Gwenllian in wonder.

The apparition smiled. "The same as you. It is the nature of this place that all you face is yourself. Those who come with plans of conquest find they are only fighting themselves. You come here with a noble heart and so your quest has been fulfilled: you have found yourself."

"I do not understand", Gwenllian said. "I come in quest of a noble worthy of service."

Her double beckoned her onward and not much further in was a warm and friendly hall. From the shadows came forward a hermit bearing a shield. "See here the Arms of the Principality of Drachenwald" she said as it came into the light. "There were place here by Prince Ulric when his time came, since it is the custom of the Princes of Drachenwald that succession is chosen by those fulfilling a Quest. The arms borne by Black Ivar are not the true arms. You have won the true arms of Drachenwald, as is your birthright. This is the liege you are destined to serve."

The were pressed into the astonished Gwenllian's hands and another hermit stepped forward with a sword. "Behold here the Great Sword of State. As you have shown wisdom in your actions you have won the right to wield Justice in these lands. It is entrusted to you to wield with the same wisdom."

This, too, was passed to her. As such was done another hermit brought out a large suit of black armor. "Behold here armor of the scales of Albion himself. As he gave succor and protection to our first Prince Jahn, he gives succor and protection to you for in your heart beats the true spirit of Albion."

This she too took and girded about herself. When the last buckle was in place she heard a familiar whinny behind her. She turned to find her own horse. "You have won the heart of this beast through your gentle words and kind treatment. Nothing speaks more highly of you since the beast knows not politics or connivance. We restore him to you and in the morning you shall ride forth and win the hearts of the people of Drachenwald the same."

To all this Gwenllian listened with wonder. Here she had found much more than she sought. Though the privilage was great so too, she knew, would be the responsibility.

And, indeed, Gwenllian proved to be more than capable of the task. But that is another tale to be told at another time.

Back in the days of Black Prince Ivar, evil roamed abroad in the lands of Drachenwald and Albion was far from the hearts of the people. The Lady Gwenllian sat astride her horse, contemplating her journey. For food and lodging at University she had agreed to deliver a message for their Herald to his counterpart in the Shire of Perilous Journey. For at that time she was not even yet a squire and had to make due with what came across her path. Good patrons were thinly scattered and she had not yet come into her birthright.

The road she had been directed to lead far to the East of the lands she knew, and it was not without cause that the land bore such a baneful name. Though it was an unfair trade for the lodging she had received, she took it nonetheless, as she wished to travel all the lands of Drachenwald, searching for the Spirit of Albion.