Malvol (Malady) De Gard

Written By: Stephen Dove

 

MalvolMalady ‘Malvol’ De Gard of Mournford

Malady De Gard’s family had held the manor of Mournford for two hundred years before his birth; indeed the De Gard’s were once related to the Royal Family, though the connection was by 907 AS, so tenuous that few thought of it any longer.

That year was a terrible year for the De Gards, for Malady’s Father, Voltari, vanished before the boy was even born. The De Gards had been feuding with their neighbours, the monks of Crountal Abbey and with the Aldred family for generations; for each contended that a certain area of moorland lay within their demesne.  Yet 907 AS saw things turn bloody; cattle were raided and men killed, as feud turned to open warfare.

Voltari De Gard was a proud man and he defended his hearth steadfastly. Yet one morning he went out hunting in the Hourla Hills and neither he nor his retainers were ever seen again. All that was found was one of his faithful hounds; it was later rumoured that Baron Aldred had had him murdered, though that did not seem likely, for the Aldreds had always prided themselves on face-to-face brutality.

Whatever the cause, his pregnant mother Catherine, could not lead his sworn men in battle and soon all their livestock had been stolen by the Aldreds and the monks were using the moors near Mournford for their sheep. Voltari’s master-at-arms led many raids, but was eventually killed. After that, Aldred began openly laying waste to the demesne, burning the village of Longmead and the market at Braying Cross that the De Gard family had long protected. It was not long before most of the De Gard family were dead.

Malady’s mother was forced from her manor and took shelter with her rapacious family, the De Toyne’s; at Tanebeck, near Corvallin Castle, in 908 AS. The boy was born, hale and hearty in the depths of winter; but his mother would not look at him, naming him ‘Malady’ and his father a coward.

She wept each night in her rooms, for she was a proud and foolish woman, and hated to be Lady-in-waiting to her sister in law; Alice de Toyne.

The other boys took up his mother’s chant and threw Malady’s father’s cowardice in the boy’s face every day, and every day he strove to prove himself worthy. Soon he was the fastest and the best at all he turned his hand to.

Yet life at Tanebeck was not all bad, for Malady grew up fast there; sparring with his cousin Tancred de Toyne, who arrived after his fostering at Maunderlak Castle. Tancred beat the life out of Malady during their play fighting, but the boy learned much and earned his bully-boy cousin’s respect, as well as giving him a few bruises.

Later, when both were just still striplings, Tancred and Malady, by now calling himself Malvol, raided the De Gard’s old manor and slew many of Aldred’s men. They also drove off the monks flocks and sent a petition in to the King to restore the De Gard’s lands. Within a year, they had defeated Baron Aldred in bloody challenge, slaying his second son in the process and raiding Market’s Cross in reprisals for what had been done to their family.

It looked like Aldred would raise his full strength then and crush them utterly, but Tancred had also won the Fay Bridge Tourney in that year (926 AS), and had come to the attention of the King. Hadric stepped in and warned Aldred off; leashing the upstart Baron for the first and only time of his reign.

Malvol triumphantly rode home and ordered his Mother to pack, thinking he had excised his father’s shame. But his Catherine was a broken woman and even the sight of her old home could not exorcise the bitterness from her soul. She died later that same year, for her heart had shrivelled and she had no love for any living thing left in her by the end.

Malvol buried her with all of his other relatives, for now there were no De Gards left but himself. He left Mournford and his old lands in the hands of his cousin Tancred, and took the cross and the boat to Outremer in 927 AS.

Tancred later became King’s champion and earned much renown for his family and his name. He was killed in 937 AS, during the border wars with the Thulanders and was laid to rest in Netherford Cathedral in a place of honour. Without his protection, the monks of Crountal Abbey forged a writ, signing the De Gard lands over to them. The Aldred family claimed Braying Cross and Mournford for their own, and the King was too weak to protest.

Malvol was far away, fighting the Ta’ashim and did not hear of this until his return in 949 AS, when he arrived back in Albion after 22 years away and found a country he no longer recognised………….

 Session 1     

Session 2      

Session 3     

Session 4

Maelee

Carroe

Jasper

Sven

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