Kai is the youngest son of the knight Rhys of Esgair Ddu, a small holding in the mountains of northern Wales. Because the land is insufficient to divide among all of his children, Sir Rhys has declared that the son who brings the greatest honor to the family will earn the title Lord of Esgair Ddu, and all the benefits that accompany it. Kai has always been coddled by his mother and sisters, and is loath to leave home, but after a stern lecture from his father about filial responsibility, and realizing that his brothers have been out in the world making their names for years, Kai decides to set out to earn his honor. His childhood friend, Owain, who has trained as a minstrel, having the itchy feet that so often accompany such a profession, decides to accompany Kai. In a fit of melodramatic passion, Kai declares that he will no longer be known as Kai, but rather as Dienw (nameless), until he has proven himself worthy.
Kai ap Rhys is tall and gangly, more wirey than strong. Like the rest of his family he has dark eyes, but unlike his siblings and parents his hair is bright blonde, nearly white. He carries a sword, and wears ringmail armor. His family ring and cup, all his inheritance if he cannot win the land, he keeps safely tucked away.
Owain ap Cwm (of the Valley) was born in a small hamlet tucked away in a valley near the manor. His father worked the land for Lord Rhys, planting, tending, and harvesting. Owain's mother died giving birth to his younger sister, Cerys. Without her watchful eye, Owain (and often Cerys too) ran wild. Always playful and mischievous, Owain constantly snuck away to play with his friend, Kai, at the manor. There, from passing minstrals and bards, Owain learned some stories and basic skills on the lute. Owain is shorter than Kai, and scrawny, with shaggy brown hair and merry blue eyes.
After several days of traveling, the two adventurers come upon a town large enough to support a tavern. Eager for the promise of comfortable beds and warm food not cooked by Kai, the two immediately enter and ask for supper. The innkeeper notices Owain's lute, and being a clever businessman, requests that the minstrel entertain them. Owain obliges, telling the story of Llewelyn the Brave with such dramatic expression that the entire room is captivated. When the innkeeper promises not to charge for the meal or accomodations if Owain will tell a second story, Owain is happy to spin another yarn. This time he tells of Gorm the Bold, who is less well recognized, and the listeners quickly lose interest.
While eating, Owain and Kai had noticed a foreign monk sitting nearby. After much banter, Kai is convinced to go ask the monk if he is on an adventure, and if they can come along. What follows is an interesting exchange of miscommunication, where Murphy thinks the others want more cheese, and where they think he's offering them cheese in exchange for their leftover bread. The two adventurers go to sleep thinking they've made a contract with Murphy to come with him on his adventure.
Murphy O'Shenanigan has come from Ireland to bring the true gospel to the heathens in Britain. He has traveled for a short time in Wales, going from monastery to monastery. One of the incentives for his coming so far was a fondness for good cheese, and an interest in the making of heather ale. Unfortunately, he is hindered by a lack of understanding of the Welsh language. Murphy is a little short and stocky, with a curly head of red hair and bright green eyes.
The following day, Owain and Kai accompany Murphy on his way to the nearby monastery. As both Murphy and the monks speak latin, some degree of translation is accomplished, and Murphy opts to stay for some formal training in the fundamentals of the Welsh language. While he does this, Kai and Owain work in the garden and pursue their own skills. Owain exchanges stories with the monks, and plays for them. Kai practices his ranger skills in the nearby woods, and eventually talks Owain into practicing swordplay with him. After a few smacks back and forth (luckily with wooden swords, as Owain has no armor), Kai lands a good hit and accidentally breaks Owain's wrist. One of the monks is able to heal Owain, but the travelers decide to stay out the rest of the week at the monastery, which is good because Murphy is having a hard time with his Welsh.
Kai and Owain, having learned that the monk is actually on a mission trip, and not an adventure, have an animated discussion, and eventually decide that they might have a good adventure after all, as traveling can be perilous. So, when Murphy sets out on his way to the next abby, the two accompany him.
After traveling for part of the day, they come upon a ford in a stream, next to which is a pavilion. A knight emerges, announcing himself as Bran ap Gwendyr, and speaks a challenge to Kai. Kai accepts, declaring himself to be Dienw ap Rhys, but is quickly knocked unconscious with a sharp blow to the head. The knight is concerned for the young man's health, and orders his squire to splash water on Kai. When Kai rouses, Sir Bran mentions he and his squire are traveling to the tourney in Pensarn, which will be held on the first of May (it is now early April). He offers that the group may travel with him. After much discussion, the band decides to continue on to the monastery, and follow to the tournament later.