(1874-08-??) The burial of Sir Wulfred de Ufford
The burial of Sir Wulfred de Ufford
Summary: Sir Wulfred de Ufford, the 1st Lord of Aspendon, is buried atop the hill where he died. A few days later, a fitting send off is arranged.
Date: 1874-08-??
Related: Beneath the Apple Tree
NPCs: Constance, Godfrey, Tansy, Freya, Eckardt, Felicity, Lukas, Thomas, Daisy, Wulfred, Aubree, Molly, Wolf, Fitz, Edith, & Greta. And a few others.
Wulfred  Thomas  Bethany  Shirlyn  Emrys  Corwin  Gauvain  

A beautiful hill an hour or so from Duval.
Atop a hill, an hour or so from Duval. A great apple tree has taken root and leaves its windblown apples all about the ground. Before it, a grave stacked with a good many stones, adorned with a tattered cloak, a lobster-tailed helm with three grouse feathers, and an apple stands.

There was a war to fight, to prepare for, an enemy at their gates. Yet still the Royal Knights of the Burnished Spur paused in their duties, the squires stared, and knights prayed, and the entire group mourned their loss as they gathered at the great apple tree high upon a hill overlooking the lands surrounding Duval. Quite how this tree came to be, a discarded core or otherwise was hardly considered, but given the peace etched upon their Lord-Commander's face, it seemed a fitting place for the old Lord to be laid to rest as was tradition within the scouting Regiment. One was simply buried where they fell.

Between four stout knights, the deep grave was dug and borne by dirtied hands, the old Lord-Commander was lowered into the ground, wrapped within the Regimental Colours and the Regimental Flag. A fitting shroud, wrapped within cloth bearing battle honours at which he had mostly fought. And then and only then did the clarion call of the Regiment's mournful hunting horns break the silence. Birds spiralled into the sky with a flap of wings, a shifting of twigs and branches, and a few leaves fluttered towards the grave. A moment or two later, the pile of dirt to the side was slowly shovelled back into the hole that contained their Lord-Commander.

A good many stones had been gathered by all, and one by one, each Knight and Squire stepped forth to lay their stone atop the grave, packing the dirt hard, and slowly building a most makeshift yet simple memorial to the man several feet beneath. Finally atop it all, the Lord-Commander's lobster-tailed helm was set atop the pile of stones, the three grouse feathers twitching in the wind, with a single apple, that very apple they'd found in his grasp, set beside it.

It was after a few words spoken by the officers of the Regiment, that the knights and squires settled in to give their Lord-Commander his vigil. Each standing watch over their fallen Lord-Commander, the night simply passing as it often did, peacefully and quietly. The two fires that had lit the night's sky, little more than embers come the morning.

Quietly even still, several messengers were chosen, the best riders amongst those gathered, and each with an apple plucked from the tree beneath which Lord Wulfred de Ufford, the Lord Aspendon, and Lord-Commander of the Royal Knights of the Burnished Spur was buried, and each rider was soon sent forth to deliver the news to his dear friends, while Sir Jauffre made ready to inform Lady Constance and his family.

The message was simple, a couple of days hence, there'd be a good gathering at the apple tree, Wulfred's apple tree, his friends were welcome to come say a few words or pay their last respects. While each apple would be handed over, a simple request made that the apple be eaten and the pips be planted somewhere close, somewhere with a good view.

A few days later…

In all their finery, the Order and the Regiment had gathered. Musketeers and pike formed ranks upon the gentle slope, with a path formed between their separated ranks, leading up to the summit of the hill, their uniforms neat and clean. The knights and the squires formed twin crescents about the tree, either side, with the grave at the fore between the two nearest points to the rank and file so gathered on the slope. That pile of stones, adorned with a helm and a single apple, such a simple monument to a Great Lord and former Hedge Knight. Trapped beneath a stone, the man's tattered cloak, a cloak that even Gauvain had sought to replace at one time, caught the breeze and fluttered, patched and stitched as it was.

It was the Dowager Lady Constance de Ufford who approached first, large and often full of such life and beauty, the grey-haired love of Wulfred's life wore black for the first time in anyone's memory. Yet despite her sadness, that large frame moved with a certainty as she stood to address those so gathered, "My beloved is proud of you all. Loves you all, such is… was his way, and I too love each and every one of you, the stories he would tell of each and every one of you mean that though I may have been separated from Wulfred for a time, I have the largest family I could ever have hoped for, and to see you all gathered here, well…" An eye glistened, an imperious thrust of a chin, the other jostled chin behind it added only to the rather firm stance she had adopted, a glorious and large figure of a woman, like a man o' war at full sail, unstoppable and undeniable, a bulwark against everything but the building emotion, "He could not have wished for a finer place to rest…" And with an aged hand pressed against those stacked stones, the Dowager Lady Constance leant in against the delightfully rustic monument to the Lord beneath, and kissed a stone, before placing her own and pushing away form the grave. Within but a few steps, she was with her immediate family, Lord Godfrey the new Lord Aspendon, his wife Lady Tansy, alongside which the daughters' Lady Freya, and Lady Felicity, each with their own husbands Lukas and Eckardt. Gathered about them all, fussing, uncertain and staring at the men and women about them all, the little ones, the grandchildren, Thomas, Daisy, Wulfred, Aubree, Molly, Wolf, Fitz, Edith, & Greta. The de Ufford main line on show and evidently secure. So many grandchildren!

And there, before the stack of stones, each placed by a squire or knight, rests a smaller pile of oddly sized stones, ready to be placed by another hand.

Much of Viscount Chandus's Repton Regiment has turned out, another honour guard for a man who'd commanded them before, fought alongside them and been an influence on them. The officers, the men, they all knew good old Lord Wulfred back when he was a much younger Sir Wulfred and they the simple, small regiment of the Lord Chandus. Side by side they fought, in the Thirty Years War, in the First and then Second Succession War, in the War of the West. Many a camp, a fort and a siege line they shared. Many a line they'd charged, or dug their heels in when the enemy came thundering for them. Many a laugh, and many a drink.

At the head of the regiment, arrayed in their finest ceremonial armour, is their Tribune Thomas Chandus. Beyond fighting alongside, he'd also grown from boy to man with Wulfred as a coach, an uncle, a confidant, a best friend. Eventually, a vassal too. It was hard for him to see Old de Ufford laid to rest, but he died the way he lived - in the field, in the company of his fellows. Doing what he loved, that is to say, serving his Queen, his Duke, his liege and his family. Thomas steps forward in his lacquered boiled leather cuirass, helmet off, and places a stone. He steps back, and calls, "To our fallen comrade - general salute, PRESENT ARMS!" And as one, the regiment's troops, with sword, with spear, with bow or whatever their weapon, perform the drill movement to their friend.

Most of the guard from Duval are also present with Lady Bethany Tarris at the head. They have all donned their finest armor with a black arm band drawn about their left upper arm. Bethany has also chose to wear a surcoat over her breastplate, it also black. The young heir is somehow managing to keep her emotions in check but anyone who knows her will know she's wrecked. Wulfred - Uncle Wulfie - was as much family as anyone with Tarris blood in their veins, the man and his kin all people she loved. And now? Who will guide her? Who will advise her when times grow hard and bleak? Swallowing down a sob she can feel working its way from her throat, she lifts her chin, her jaw tightening.

"To our fallen comrade," she echoes as a memory skips through her head. It's of Wulfred during a time when they rode together, seeking recruits on their way from Four Corners, all those years ago. He was happy, so proud to do his duty for his liege, the pride showing in how he carried himself in his saddle, the smile on his face. The memory manages to bring her some peace, a moment's respite from the churning of feelings threatening to overwhelm her.

When the call to present arms is made all the Tarris fighters lift their weapons in unison save for one, that being Bethany who instead closes her right hand into a fist, that fist then placed over her heart.

Quietly standing in the middle of the crowd of mourners is a lady in black leather armor, she watches and listens as others speak of their old friend. She knew him well enough, though not so well as others who are speaking. “He taught me how to shoot,” she says quietly to herself, she doesn’t cry but she does actually look sad. Baroness Shirlyn Tenebrae looks haggard, road warn and tired with a red apple in her hand. Once the honors are given and people go to pay his wife and family their condolences, Shirlyn walks up to the cairn and places that ripe apple and, digging into her pocket, a pink be-speckled one beside it. She doesn’t go and give her condolences, she never felt those words were worth too much anyway. Instead she turns and leaves, she and Emrys came together but she didn’t look to see where he stood while the services went on. She walks back towards her horse and her trusty guards without speaking to anyone taking a look at the faces present. Diverting her course only slightly, she walks by Emrys with her head down and eyes averted, she brushes his hand comfortingly before moving on. She mounts up and rides away deeper into the apple grove, more than likely to give everyone, and herself, privacy. Especially Emrys. Right stays behind to await his Baron and tell him where Emrys’ wife went, once he does he goes to find her.

Corwin didn't bring his troops, they had heard of the old wolf, there was none in the Duchy who hadn't heard of the man as his deeds were what any soldier aspired to. Instead, Corwin came alone with his wife. The two stand near Bethany, silent and somber as they watch and listen. He wears his own fine armor, polished and clean the way Wulfred had taught him back when he briefly squired for the man. He had taught Corwin the art of powder, of shooting from a horseback, and how to remove the foulness in his heart. The latter hadn't been intentional, Corwin in those days had been dark of heart and considered many darker deeds, but the time squiring under Wulfred destroyed that darkness and left the man he is now.

Then the all to present arms comes, like Bethany he makes a fist and places it over his heart. "I won't say good buy uncle," he says softly, his wife squeezing his other hand. "Instead I'll say simply, I'll see you later. Rest for now. I love you." He bows his head and whispers a soft prayer to the One.

The Tarris Ducal Regiment designated as the Honor Guard consists of all Knights. Each knight wears their armor polished and cleaned to the finest it possibly had ever been, for every one of them had served beside, had drinks with, or shared a laugh over a campfire with Wulfred. Every one of them learned something from the man, be it how to dispel a dark mood, a trick to cook a meal in the rain at the campfire, how better to load a hand cannon to be faster than the other guy, or even simply how to get drunk in a most efficient manner and not have a hangover the next morning. None had mastered the latter, but all had been willing to give it a go. They present arms as one, swords held in the drill position and heads bowed in respect.

The Duke watches it all from his place just behind Constaince and Wulfred's gaggle of children and grandchildren. When one of the younger grandchildren sniffles, he places a gloved hand on the boy's shoulder, Thomas he thinks and gives an affectionate squeeze. The boy turns with tearful eyes to look at him and Gauvain kneels to whisper to the boy. "No tears little one." He says in as soft a voice as he can, his gravely rough voice making it difficult. "Your Grandfather lead a wonderful, rich and honorable life. Instead, celebrate that, for he is now with the One in the Kingdom of the Sun. Whenever you miss him just know that the when the Sun warms your skin, or lights your way, that is your Grandfather showing his love for you, and showing you the path." He squeezes the bow's shoulder and oofs as, despite the armor, he is nearly knocked over when the younger man plows into him for a hug. Gauvain wraps his arm around the young man and gives him a light squeeze.

A moment later Thomas turns back and Gauvain stands up, ruffling the boy's hair. He silent makes a note to make sure all of Wulfred's children and grandchildren are taken care of. He knows his Lordship is well off despite the Goblin raids, but he wants to make sure his friend's family is happy despite this loss. It was hard to believe the old wolf was gone. So many days beside a fire. The difference in rank be damned the two would always find themselves by a hearth, drinking some form of Brandy. Laughing at this or that. It was Wulfred who comforted him when his children's mother had died of sickness so many years ago. It was Wulfred who after the Betrayal had simply shown up with a bottle of apple brandy, poured two drinks and sat with him. No words, merely a companion and friend's company.

He was tired. He had stood vigil as soon as he had arrived. Silently stepping in with the Knights of the Burnished Spurs, Vendetta drawn before taking his position. None questioned him, they couldn't. His heart was broken then as it was now. The Hearth in Griffon Pointe would never feel complete again. He did not draw his sword to present arms. A Duke was not permitted this act. Instead, he stepped forward and placed his finest bottle of Apple Brandy on the grave. "For the road old friend. Save me a drink for when we meet again."

In the night, after all had departed, a figure wrapped in a deep grey cloak approached the apple tree, looking up at it. They had little emotional investment in this, but orders were orders. The figure approached and bent down, retrieving from a satchel a small wooden bas relief of a shaggy old wolf with a few pups nipping at it's heels. It was placed with the other things that were left and the obscured figure offered a silent prayer to The One before they stood and took their leave, melting back off into the darkness.

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