THE LADY OF THE WOODS.
Through the early morning mists a party of Saxon raiders creeps forward towards the Centurion's Farm. As they approach Pook's Hill, a small band breaks off and heads to the right towards a small cottage where a mysterious woman lives.
Some say that she is a sorceress who once ruled this land and now plots revenge on the Centurion who lords it over what was once hers. Others say she is the daughter of a fallen King, rightful heir to his kingdom and that there are those who would pay well for her return. Still others say that she is just a wise woman who tends to the forest creatures. Helgin the Chief intends to find out and so sends Irwin and his band to seek alliance or seize her for ransom.
Hoping to find the inhabitants still asleep, Redlegs leads his berserkers swiftly forward. The old Centurion had been warned however and his farmhands and shepherds are armed and waiting. As the berserkers rush forward they meet a hail of sling stones but it takes more than a wound to stop one of these fanatics and they reach the wall. It is harder to climb than it looks and while the shepherds are not trained warrior, they have strong arms and stout hearts. After a brief fight Redlegs and his surviving berserker fall back to the woods to catch their breath.
The noise of the fight at the farm echoes across the valley and the mysterious Lady of the Wood emerges from her cottage in time to confront the Saxons. She evades their questions and then as they lose patience and close in, evades their grasp. Fleeing swiftly she heads towards a group of knights who have just appeared. Prince Michael of Valdur has answered the Centurion's call for aid!
The Prince, seeing that the farm is holding out sends 1/2 of his knights to clear the Saxons from the valley while he and Sir Robert ride for the farm. The Saxon archers are lightly equipped but they are veteran fighters and only the knights' armour saves them, time and again. At last the archers are cut down or driven back to the woods, the knights turn and speed to the aid of the young woman who can be seen fleeing across the valley with Saxon warriors in close pursuit.
As Michael arrives at the farm he sees Redlegs and a companion charge up the hill once again while Helgin and his men have formed a sieldwall just behind them. Knowing that his own men are coming fast tbut still too far away to intervene, he throws caution to the wind and charges in. The gap is narrow and Sir Robert crashes into Redlegs leaving Michael to face the Saxon shieldwall alone. Redlegs manages to cutdown the Centurion before being laid low himself by Sir Robert but the fight takes too long.
Michael fights desperately but the numbers are too many and finally despite his armour he is surrounded and brought down. The Saxons charge the farm with a roar but the fight has given precious time and the Valdurian soldiers with Sir Robert at their head meet them in combat. A fierce and prolonged melee follows but at last Robert wounds Helgin and as he is carried to the rear the Saxon shieldwall breaks.
While Sir Robert and the Valdurians chase the Saxons, the Lady of the Villa emerges and sets her men to checking the wounded. Alas the old Centurion has come to the end of the days, brought low by Redlegs' final blow. At least he died as he lived, with honour. Prince Michael, however, is found under his wounded horse and is carried back to the villa to be nursed back to health.
But what of the Lady of the Woods? The Valdurian knights lie where they fell amid a pile of Saxon corpses but the mysterious Lady is nowhere in sight. Irwin stares across at the villa then calls his remaining men, sets fire to the cottage and fades back into the woods to seek the fate of his chieftain.
Tomorrow a look behind the scenes at the game and at a change to how armour is handled in Stout Hearts.