Winter came to Broughton and brought with it tragedy. Graid’s beloved wife, Lady Alis, gave birth to a son but did not survive the labor. Grieving, he ordered the hall draped in black, hired a nurse to look after his children, and departed for Sarum, where he intended to surround himself with the knights and ladies of the Earl’s court.
At Sarum, Graid brooded. He wondered if the death of his wife had been caused by the machinations of Lady Madule of the Raven Hair. He publicly denounced her every chance he got, but at night his dreams were haunted by visions of the reclusive woman. He began to drink heavily, both in an effort to forget his grief and dull his strange feelings for Madule. It was in this altered state, then, that he set his sights on the beautiful young wife of the steward of Ebble Castle, Sir Melianus. Her name was Amide, and, despite being a newlywed, she was captivated by Graid’s winish swagger. Their burgeoning affair was an open secret, particularly as the cold weather forced them to conduct their assignations inside Salisbury Castle – not the most private of locales for such scandalous behavior.
Sir Melianus was forced to stand by, impotent with rage. He was a knight of middling rank and advancing age, while Graid was the county’s greatest living knight and young and handsome to boot. Even worse, he was a favorite of King Arthur, so there could be little hope for justice even if Melianus took his case to the High Court – or so he felt. To his closest confidants, he swore vengeance upon Graid, but he knew it would have to be undertaken on the sly. He would have to be devious and catch Graid at a vulnerable moment. And so he began to plot and plan. . .