In 472AR, the Hedge Wars had become a game of cat-and-mouse, with Etien Braelea's
forces popping in and out of the Murkmantle
to strike at the Free Company
and help House Cyrton
. While Etien's campaign of moving light and striking fast was winning him many victories, it was getting his forces no closer to Surlee nor ending the threat to Septhearth.
"When our two dozen greatest knights swore to do or die with the young lord, there came upon the camp a sense of noble resignation. We knew the Semillons had become too entrenched, Surlee too deep behind their lines, our numbers too few, our days running out." - Sir Rys Thewisy, CQ, Blood Red Blossoms
Thus, in 473, after over a year of living in the Murkmantle, Etien openly took the field at Septhearth. As they gathered in the valeside, the sentiment amongst his forces was that this would be a do-or-die rush for Surlee. Assembling in one of the many meadows of the Blossom Fields, full of green bells, a common flower there, Etien's twenty-four closest knights knelt around him and swore an oath to give their lives for his. While many were grizzled veterans of his predecessors' campaigns, there was at least one representative from each Braelea-allied house.
Each member of the group would fall shortly afterwards at the Battle of the Basselac
Fields, slain defending their lord. While Etien was eventually taken and executed, it was not before each of his defenders fell first, giving the group a short lifespan but an enduring legacy. The Yellow Vestrial Priestesses
gathered their bodies, noted their heraldry, and along with the other dead, burnt
them on the field, leaving in place some traditional pyroie
, few of which survive.
Sir Tomas the Keener
Due to ambiguous wording in the account of the battle by Rys Thewisy, the Crimson Quill scribe who wrote an authoritative account of the Hedge Wars, local legends began to pop up about one surviving knight. Tomas, a knight of House Cyrton, was said to have survived the battle despite his best efforts to die with his lord, and in his grief wandered the Blossom Fields until his death. After which, he became a Vestre
, a sort of restless spirit, wandering about the countryside mourning and lashing out at the enemies of his dead lord.
"When Meda's Eyes are longest in the sky, all must keep watch whilst restless spirits fly. Gather within a warm home, and hold your friends close as the vestri moan." - a portion of a poem about Meda's Night
This gave rise to all sorts of local legends, with Tomas the Keener becoming a popular figure around Meda's Night
, the winter's solstice which holds particular spiritual power. He also became a symbol for anti-Semillon activity, as well as children's stories revolving around pranks, and occasionally features on the branding of Blossom Fields-produced spirits.
The Order of the Green Bells has seen a revitalization numerous times, almost all of which have been a militant group of some sort focused on fighting House Semillon. The most prominent was a group of Blossom Fields men who went east to fight with House Salis' vassals against House Semillon in the 2nd Semillon Usurpation War
. Another notable group is that of the twenty-four notable citizens of Surlee who help organize and protect the Raymon's Rest
festival. The militant sentiments around the Green Bells, which featured members from many houses, serves as one of the many facets binding together former Braelea-loyalist vassals.