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Thread: 900 yeAARs of AARs.

  1. #61
    Colonel Kuipy's Avatar
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    1195, thanks. Note all dates are given randomly according to what sounds both good and approximately right, within the timeperiod of session.

    Normandy not Norman... Long story. Basically it is all the bastard Curthose's fault (with the exception of the expansion in Spain which was Geoffroy's decision, every single aspect of Norman politic so far has him as an ultimate cause).

    This is probably going to change : the struggle between Lovell and Henry is going to have far-reaching consequences. If baseborn Lovell wins, and then every rich merchant will know he can get his grandson to a noble seat if he pimps his daughter to the actual tenant. If it is Henry, high nobility is going to have its day (and either way it will remember that at some point it had its say in who would get the throne).

    Except that this struggle itself also has its roots in the old opposition between the Dutch and Norman at court, which itself is a result of... old Curthose who arranged the marriage of his son William to a Dutch heiress to garner the benevolent neutrality of Holland in his (contemplated) expansion in Northern France. Obviously history took another course.
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  2. #62
    Colonel Kuipy's Avatar
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    A lot happen and we are making a break, so there will be three installments for this period. Also I will have to edit some old posts for continuity.

    The fat diplomat

    Kuipy (King of Leon)

    They say in Normandy every story begins ith a meal, which Berengar had found to be true enough. And therefore he was not displeased when a groom at the Good Soldier Inn ushered him past a painted wooden panel which represented Duke Robert’s kneeling in submission before his brother-in-law. As he entered the hidden, windowless room, where the lord regent was waiting for him, he beheld a magnificent table covered with all sorts of courses and victuails.

    “ Have a seat, Excelentie.” Maertijn offered. A lean, wiry man of over sixty, with a pointy chin and a hooked nose, he was as different from his guest as from his late brothers. Berengar, if truth be told, knew him well, having met him forty years before, when they were both pages at the court of their great-grandsire King Eduard of Lotharingia.

    “ I trust your journey to Avranches was eventless”, he added
    “ Tiresome, though. And dreary.” The fat Dutch let himself fall on a chair, discreetly eyeing his host.
    “ We will try to it make worth the hassle, then.”

    Craftly Berengar smiled and grabbed one fat ball of puff pastry, glistening with baked egg yolk and oozing butter. Wrapped in the pastry was a sweet apple, and inside the apple a small quail stuffed with herbs and forcemeat. There were dark and pale ham, mashed goose tights in lard, blood sausages over steamed pears and whole crabs spread over cold vegetables.

    “ So this” he unctuously added, “is a matter of state ? Yet I do not see your good King Lovell ?”
    “ Lovell is but a boy, and under my thumb... I am the man who rules here.” Maertijn bent to whisper
    “Interesting.” Since he came back as a mere provost to the court of his uncle Duke William, Maertijn’s fortunes had greatly varied, as had those of the Dutch party that his father Willem and uncle Dirk represented. Unnoticed during his Geoffroy’s conquests except as a uninspired battle commander, he had taken advantage of King Dirk’s short reign to obtain many honors, most of which he had been stripped of by Jordan and Hugues. With Hugues dead and his son a minor, it was to be expected that he would want to quench his thirst for power and avenge his years of obscurity. “ What about his brother Gaillard, who does not seem to be without support, especially in Galicia ?”
    “ His half-brother.” The regent was toying with some grapes. “What of him indeed ? He is younger than our Lovell by a year, and my poor nephew certainly meant the latter to succeed him.”
    “ Did he ?” Berengar asked. When he nibbled at a slice of apple and onion quiche, the juices dribbled down his three chins. “In any case, many princes of Europe would regard Gaillard as the most legitimate son, given that his mother was highborn. Or that the kingdom should be divided equally between both boys.”
    “ I do hope Bartolomeus is not one of them. Henry is way too headstrong for a king, and, especially under the pernicious influence of his mother, is unlikely to heed the advice of wiser, more experienced men. I mean to exclude him, for good, from the succession.”
    “ I do have some influence with him. But obvioulsy he must also consider the best interests of Lotharingia.”
    “ A game we have both played before. Very well. If your wise council prevails and our Dutch kingdom does not move against our interests when we set Gaillard aside... Well in that case, once my problems are taken care of, you can have Leon and Galicia.”
    Those terms beat the Breteuil's offer by so much that Berengar could not help fearing a trap.
    “ You would not even think of selling the same territories to my good king Bartolomeus and to the Emperor of Burgundy, and letting us sort it out among ourselves, would you ?” From his seat in Vienne, the occitan emperor ruled Europe from Artois to Umbria, and from Asturias to Venize. His ambitions in Spain were no mysteries, and it was not lost on many that all it needed to reclaim the crown of Charlemagne amounted, roughly, to the Lotharingian territory.
    Maertijn chuckled.
    “ That is something my grandfather could have done. No, to tell you the truth I mean to offer Burgundy the acknowledgement of their claims on Britanny, and what little of Normandy we have left and can not hope to keep. Oh, and you are mistaken. I did not offer Bartolomeus anything.”
    Now, wasn't it becoming interesting ?
    “ I thought I heard you agree to relinquish Leon and Galicia, which would greatly complement our own possessions near Valencia.”
    “ And I do mean to relinquish them to you, Berengar.”
    “ To me ?”
    “ For the greatest good of our kingdoms, may they become united as never before.”
    “ An unlikely occurrence.” To say the least. Yet Berengar could not help remembering that the Frankens, a long time ago, had been king and even emperors...
    “ Unless we work together toward that aim. Have some of this pear liquor, excellentie. Now, once Henry is eliminated for the greatest good of the realm, I will happen to be the next king should any ill befell our poor Lovell, who is so clumsy and unlucky.”
    Beneath their amiable glitter, Maertjin's eyes were as cold and dark as any Berengar had ever seen.
    “ And I am kin to Bartholemeus too” he went on “ Not the closest of kin, I would give you that, but my blood is of the royal Dutch family, and in some situations, and you with the right support, of course... Well, I may be the man the two kingdoms need, and they were rumor of Arnulf's bastardry when he succeeded my grandfather, which would make me the real heir. Burgundy is frightening Europe, we both know it. But the United Kingdom of Holland and the Isles could put a term to it.”
    “ And Western Iberia ?”
    The lord regent showed his most wolfish smile.
    “ I would be generous with those who favoured my ascension, most generous. A former minister at the Dutch court, who would have helped me obtain the throne... He could have all of it, either as my loyal vassal or as a independent king, if Burgundy does not scare him.”
    “ Well, of course I am interested” Berengar said.
    “ And many more will be” he thought.



    Last edited by Kuipy; 14-02-2009 at 01:26.
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  3. #63
    Human Enewald's Avatar
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    It's a trap!
    You can not cede land in ck.
    Which is bad.

  4. #64
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    The Jewish Intrigant

    Kuipy (King of Leon)

    (soundtrack suggestion)

    They say in Normandy every story begins with a meal, but there was a knot in Isaac’s throat and all he could hope was not dying a traitor’s death for his deed. How long they were to come ! And the small hall was cold and damp despite the tapestries on the wall. He rolled a heavy log in the chimneyplace and stirred the embers with a poker until it burnt merrily. The exertion has made him sweaty, but when he stood panting near the warm flames, the fear crept back back stronger than before. Had he made the right choice ? What if he was caught ?

    At that point he heard a noise in the wall. With one last look around him he reached behind the smallest of the tapestries, a crude canvas work representing the Blessed Hugues de Normandie’s miraculous healing on Lodjhus. The key he had kept under his belt fit perfectly in the lock of an ancient door. He gave it two turns and the oaken panel pivoted slowly on its rusted hinges. A giigantic moor appeared, grinning under his oiled moustachio, and a couple of wary knights pushed him aside to enter the room.

    A short, wiry man followed, the lord regent. It was done, the traitor thought. Now they were in the place and there was now turning back. If they failed the dowager queen would have him hanged ; and even if they succeeded his fate was uncertain. Maertijn did not have so much as a look for him. He was inspecting the whole room. Suddenly his eyes fell on his cousin’s face. With a strength beyond his small frame he tore the fabric from the wall and flung it into the fire. Only then did he ask Isaac : “Where from there to the winches ?”
    “ This way, m’lord.” The jew answered. “But there’s a guard, as I said.”

    And he guided the dozen men through the sleeping castle. As a door opened on the castle battlement he gestured to them to be silent and to observe. In the monnlight a soldier was standing, his back to them.
    “ There” he whispered. “The gatehouse is just behind the man, up this flight of steps.”
    Maertijn nodded.
    “ Omar.”
    The giant stirred and walked to the guard with unexpectedly light feet. For the first time Isaac noticed he was wearing no armor, but a cape of bark leather. The guards wore no gorget. When the Moor’s hands closed on his throat and lifted him from the ground he could only manage a muffled, small cry. Poor Sanchez, Isaac thought. He saw him gape for air, heard his neck snap, saw his face darken and his legs twitch helplessly. Finally the Moor laid the little corpse at his feet, where he looked no bigger than a child’s. Then he bent over the battlement and whistled a night bird’s call to the besiegers’ camp.
    The lord regent rejoined his man and peered in turn over the parapet. After a while he seemed to hear or see such answer as he had excepted, and beckoned them forward. As they passed Sanchez’ corpse Isaac had a last look for him. The face was dark and an inch of tongue hung out of his lips. Blank, white eyes stared accusingly at him and he must have shivered, for the knight behind him chuckled silently and pushed him up the stairs with a gauntleted hand.
    Last edited by Kuipy; 16-03-2009 at 03:09.
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  5. #65
    Colonel Kuipy's Avatar
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    They fell upon the guards in the gatehouse as wolves upon sheep, and even before the last of them fell on the floor four of Maertijn’s men were working at the winches, raising the potcullis while the others took their posts at the doors, ready to fight off any who would attack their position. On the ground the Moor whimpered, struck in the somach by a sword. The regent just shrugged and moved to an arrow slit from which he could look at the courtyard.

    No sooner had the portcullis been raised than a platoon of armored men-at-arms rode in followed by the bulk of king Lovell’s army. King’s Gaillard’s men, outnumbered, could not form a line in time and were dispatched easily.

    “ À moi !” somebody cried.
    It was a young man, no elder than fourteen, but already taller than many a man, with strong limbs and a large stomach. He wore breeches and a nighshirt, and over it an ill-fitting haubergeon. In his hands he wielded the long-axe of a Norman knight with strength and confidence. When he brushed aside a lock of thick brown hair which had fallen over his brow, Maertijn, with a smile, recognized his cousin Gaillard.
    Despite the ruckus some thirty of his men gathered around that prince whose mother had wanted him king, and who stood up among them with truly regal grace and courage, the very picture of chivalry. Together , gathered against the bailey, they formed a impenetrable wall of shield. Whoever came near their blades fell, more often than not by Gaillard’s hand.
    “ Enough ! A voice roared. Yield, Gaillard ! I swear to spare your life.”
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  6. #66
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    When his offer went unanswered the warrior in battered armor removed his helm and threw it on the ground. Isaac heard Maertijn gasp “Lovell ! The stupid brat !”, but then the lord regent’s face turned into an impenetrable mask, with the hint of a smile. The jew followed his look and saw the other Sanchez on the roof, unnoticed by the fighters below and taking aim carefully. Sanchez was a stablebloy, a sour wretch with a fickle wife. Was he a traitor too, like him ? Or could he be so staunch a partisan of Gaillard to try and shoot Lovell ? If so, were the two kings to be killed that night, dawn would see Maertijn crowned. And was it not a reason for him to smile ?

    “ Gaillard ! I, your king, order you to yield.”
    Gaillard raised a tired fist, and suddenly Isaac recognized the red-haired sergent at his side, one bearded and boastful Irish called Patrick, as they all were. All the castle maids, he was said to have bedded, and he was not one to keep his exploits discreet. Isaac frowned.
    “ I will not yield, Lovell” Gaillard answered, with ridiculous a high-pitch voice. “I am the rightful king.”
    For a moment they looked at each other like the brothers they were, neither wanting to be the one striking the first blow. But then Gaillard made a sudden step just as Sanchez let loose, and as he passed in front of Patrick a cuckold’s arrow struck him in the chest.

    That was the signal of the attack. In an instant they were overwhelmed and killed, Patrick, Diego, Manuel, old lame Francesco, ser Miles de Cressay, Mauricio and his deaf brother, all the men Gaillard had rallied. Sanchez slipped away in the dark, never to be seen again, probably to be killed that night as so many would be. Lovell knelt near his fallen brother. The bailey burnt and an eerie silence fell on the courtyard.
    “ Good” Maertijn said and he descended once he was assured there was no more danger, Isaac on his trail with two knights who bore torches so they could see and be seen. At their approach Lovell panted back on his feet and Isaac saw him closely for the first time.
    Last edited by Kuipy; 16-03-2009 at 03:11.
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  7. #67
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    The king was a large boy of fifteen, with dark blue eyes and blonde, tangled hair matted on sweaty temples. The mere hint of a sandy stubble covered his rosy cheeks and his fat throat. Blood dripped from his fat lips when a blow had broken them but he look otherwise unharmed, although his garments and armor were smeared with gore and dirt.
    Lovell, at his feet, looked pale and lifeless and a dead, but a feeble, irregular breath lifted his chest. A bloody froth had formed at the corner of his mouth.
    “ So the traitor is not dead. More humane to end his suffering now, vile as he was...”
    “ No.”
    From the look on his face the lord regent had not expected that from the royal child.
    “ He is my brother and my heir. Bring him to my tent and have his wounds tended.”
    “ Have I not been clear enough...”
    Something flashed in Lovell’s eyes that Maertijn saw there for the first time, but that he recognized immediately. He grew pale and stepped back.
    “ Do it.” Lovell barked, and the knights obeyed. More and more men-at-arms, forgetting plunder or satisfied with their lot, gathered around them as Lovell struggled to recover his countenance.
    “ I am the king now. I say who is traitor and who is not. I say who dies and who lives.”
    “ Do you presume to dismiss me like a servant ?”
    “ Dismiss you ? No...” Lovell smiled. “ You will remain at my side as my loyal steward. I must admit you have a gift for ruling.”
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  8. #68
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    Unpredictably he punched him with all his strength. The crunch sent shivers up Isaac’s spine, a feeling that ought to get away, fast, but the soldiers were pressed around him now. Maetijn had fallen near the bailey’s blackened wall, still hot from the fire. When he tried to get up his cousin coiled his gaunttleted fingers around his throat and slammed his head against the wall.
    “ Now you must learn to obey as well. Or you will learn what happens when I am disappointed.”
    Maertijn opened his mouth in panic and rolled his eye, only one. Isaac remember the crunch and felt like he was going to collapse.
    “ I’ll obey. I swear.”
    “ Good.” Lovell looked around him.
    “ Who betrayed my brother ?”
    “ That would be him” a knight said with a nod in Isaac’s direction. He recognized the one who had chuckled at Sanchez’ corpse. “The Jew.”
    “ For money, I guess.”
    They were going to hang him, he knew. Already hands were closing on his arms.
    “ Mercy !” he said. “ Don’t heang me.”
    “ Nobody likes a traitor. Isn’t it so, cousin ?” Lovell spat in the prostrated man on the ground.
    “ Don’t hang me ! I beg from you, I swear.”
    “ You don’t want to be hanged. Fine. Burn him.”
    Then Lovell clenched his jaw and turned in the direction of the gates. Hands started to pull him away, while he tried to struggle to his knee, pleading for the king’s grace. Suddenly he thought of something.
    “ I can save your brother !” he cried. The king stopped.
    “ If you leave him to your army barbers they will bleed him to death !” Isaac pleaded “ They will kill him ! But I know the herbs. I know the poultices, the secret ways to wash wounds and to sew them. I learnt it with the Arabs, before the Conquest. Mercy !”
    Lovell turned and face him, stared at him with mad blue eyes. He stenched of garlic and wine, of blood and sweat, of horse and death. His lips were fat and twitching. Finally he reached a decision.
    “ Aye, save him. Save him and save your own hide.”


    Holy heck I was supposed to be done with that part in a few paragraphs. And I have not even hinted yet at the big event of the session.
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  9. #69
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    King of what?
    I am really confused.
    A nice evening there.

  10. #70
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    That will teach me to copy-paste an old heading because I was too lazy to type it again...

    Lovell is still king of Leon. And of Ireland. Both.

  11. #71
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    An interesting start; I shall be reading.

  12. #72
    Colonel Kuipy's Avatar
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    Nice to have you on board. In other news...


    WAR WITH ENGLAND !


    The destitute Steward

    Kuipy (King of Leon)

    They say in Normandy every story begins with a meal. For the king’s brother Maertijn de Normandie had scraped two pheasants and a pike terrine from the castle larders, but his escort was so unexpectedly numerous that all he could give the fifty men was an oat and onion gruel with some old, leathery sausages. They did not complain, though ; they were a sour, tired, worn out lot.
    Atop the dais, on the left side of the king’s vacant seat, Gaillard. supped in silence, avoiding his cousin’s eyes, picking sullenly at his food.
    “Who commands the regiment of Galicia ?” Maertijn asked.
    Gaillard looked puzzled.
    “Why, I do, of course.”
    “In your absence, I mean.”
    The king’s heir looked at him with weary, sunken eyes.
    “They are all with me.”
    Those fifty ragged thugs were all that was left the four thousands men he had lead to England the previous spring.
    “I am going south, to recruit more men” he added.
    “The war will drag on.”
    “So it seems.” Gaillard’s tone was cold and impersonal, but his cousin’s right eye twitched and fluttered amidst the scars Lovell’s gauntleted fist had left on his face.
    “How does he mean to win against the king of England, with the mere twenty thousand he is left with?”
    Gaillard glowered. Eager as he was to battle, and brave to the boot, he had always counciled his brother against that disastrous expedition in England.
    “He certainly has a plan” he finally said, in the same trailing voice he had taken to finally relent two years ago, when his brother would hear of no peace with England. “In any case...” He pulled a seal letter from under his doublet and pushed it toward the former regent. “Our king entrusted me with confidential orders for you.”
    The seal was green wax, unbroken, and clearly recognizable. It displayed the one lion of Leon, the gros cat[1], which king Jordan, some forty years ago, had taken for his sigil, to differentiate his emblem from the three p’tits cats[2] who represented the younger branch of Normandies, the Conqueror’s heirs.
    Maertijn did not so much as frown; he expected the letter and took some measure of joy in the fact that it probably means Lovell had not ordered him killed, for now. It was probably nothing more than a new request for gold and supplies.
    “I shall read it after your departure.”
    Maybe the letter would also give him a glimpse of his cousin’s plan. It would not serve to try and obtain them from Gaillard, anyway, who was too dutiful and too friendly toward his half-brother to betray him.

    [1]pronounce "gro-kah" : big cat
    [2]pronounce "ptee-kah" : small cats
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  13. #73
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    If those too were to die he would be king. He had almost been, which was one more thing gnawing at his cruel and bitter soul. In public the only manifestation of this hatred he could not contain was the constant twitching and fluttering of his small, right eye, the one Lovell had struck. But with what joy, with what savage laughs he would have stabbed Gaillard, and even more so his fat, stupid, pampered half-brother! But Gaillard was smart and prudent, Lovell unpredictible and suspicious, both beyond his reach. And he frothed with rage, at night, to think that after so many crimes he was only too murders away from the crown.

    The supper ended without a world.
    “I beg your leave, Beaumaris” Gaillard said, and took it without waiting for an answer. Neither brother would call Maertijn cousin.
    They rode out of Castel Saint-Jacques the next morning, to the prince’s southern estates. Maertijn could have wished him good luck finding any more levies in the scoured, barren land, but instead he silently wished him to fall from his horse and break his neck. Gaillard was by far the stronger and wiser of the two, if not the most immediately dangerous.
    That morning he sat at his desk, broke his cousin’s seal after one last look at it, and read :

    “My faithful baron of Beaumaris,

    I command you to send more weapons, gold and fodder for my army. Ship these supplies to the port of Grimsby which our troops hold presently hold. I need at least five hundred swords and axes, a hundred steel hauberks and two hundred brigantines, enough food for my twenty thousand to pass the winter and ten thousand gold livres.
    I sacked enough of Sæwald’s castles to know that his wife and children are sheltered in York which is his last strongplace, and mean to sack it while he is busy in Wales. Once they are in my power he will have to make peace with me or I will butcher them and feed them to my dogs.
    Ship the supplies quickly or you will learn what happens when I am disappointed.
    Your king, Lovell”
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    The style was characteristic enough of Lovell that Maertijn could have dispensed with checking the seal. The content was characteristic of him too. Did he realize, that cruel boy, when he scoured and torched the land he pretended to conquer, that he might as well have harried his own lands and cities, so great the damage he was doing to his subjects ? From the first skirmishes it had been obvious that he could not hope to win against England’s mighty host, but Lovell was too stubborn to renounce even if that meant the ruin of his realm and the slaughter of his subjects.
    Once more Maertijn reflected that he ought to have killed Lovell when he was a child, as he had done to his father, and then suppress Gaillard somehow. He had hesitated because Lovell looked like a useful figurehead until he could deal with Gaillard, dumb and meek as the little boy was. Eventually the meek dumb boy had turned into a big cruel man, but he was still so stupid that not even luck could help him. When his outriders chanced to capture the old King Ætherlwine, he had just learned of the sack of Glamorgan by the English, and in a red rage, crushed the king’s head with a mace, thereby making the young and proud Sæwald his new adversary.
    That last plan of his might have succeeded, though. Unless…
    Leaving his small chamber he placed a candle in a discreet arrow-slit, then went back to his desk where he scribbled a few sentences on a parchment. On the right side of his desk, under the carved jaw of a wooden leopard, there was a loose plank. With deft fingers he slid it, revealing a hidden compartment from where he retrieved a block of purple wax and a brass seal. Carefully he sealed the letter with the picture of a speared lion and put the materials back in place, then waited in silence, the letter closed in front of him.

    “Good” he muttered “My son will not be here for an other hour or two.”

    For a while he busied himself with the disastrous affairs of the domains, a tangle of debts, misery and general neglect. Some tenants were decidedly untrustworthy, but with whom to replace them? All the good men were gone to war. The mills were falling into disrepair. There were more fallows than tended fields. Brigands stole from the peasants, peasants from the preceptors and the preceptors from him. What few merchants came at all in the once-bustling port of Santiago sold their cargo dearly and bought away the food he would have needed to avoid famine.
    And there was the matter of the Lovell’s demand, which all amounted to gold in a final analysis. He reviewed some charts and old letters, painstakingly working out ways to account gold out of thin air and to seize more money from a bankrupt kingdom. The Jews could be fleeced some more, he knew, and there were a few Galician merchants who still had reserves and would not be loathe to buy a noble title, however shady. He could also sell the mine in Burgos, which would not produce more iron without some works he could not afford anyway…
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    Then he stopped working, gazing silently at his secret letter, remembering the years of his life. How quickly had it passed? As a youth he had dreamt of being an other Geoffroy, a brave knight and an admired leader. The memory brought a scowl to his lips. Chivalry ! Honor ! Zeal, even ! It both irked and pained him to remember he had been young.
    And suddenly there was something he had to hold. His heart raced when his fingers delved once more in the secret compartment. How long had it been? He pulled out, with infinite precaution, a long lock of gold hair. It had been given to him by Aline de Breteuil, his nephew Hugh’s first wife, the one they called the mad, the one he had killed because, he thought, she could give him no son. Little did he know… When he scented her smell, it all came back to him, the sadness of her eyes, the fullness of her breasts, the red of her lips… It reminded him of some days long gone and some that had never been, of stolen kisses, of fright, of love. It reminded him of her blood on the white silk gown, of the bruises on her white flesh. Even after those years he still wanted to cry. Why had he only killed Hugh later, when it was too late?
    He was still pressing the lock between his fingers when someone banged the wall gently, in the corridor he had taken so many years before. Behind a drape of green and gold he opened an oaken panel. A burly, red-haired and bearded man came in. His ragged cloak and mud-splattered boots made him look like any hedge knight but someone accustomed to the tourneys of Flanders and Burgundy would have recognized the large shoulders and brown smile of Cathaoir the Tall, a jouster of some renown and mysterious allegiance.
    Could this giant really be his ? Maertijn always wondered. She had say he was.
    “Father ?” the man asked.
    “I have a task for you. Prepare to leave for Beaumaris.”
    “That heap of mud they gave you for a fief !”
    “Just so.” Maertijn did not doubt he was watched by his nephew’s creature, but they could scarcely find it strange that he would send a man to his own barony.
    “Once there, have some sailor deliver this letter to count Berengar.”
    A scowl came to his lips as he pronounced the name of his old accomplice. When those poxy sheep-lovers in Mann had rebelled against their Norman lord and decided to cast their lot with Lotharingia, Bartolomeus was owing the diplomat a favor, so he had been made count thereof, and tended to his masters’ interests and his own.

    “Berengar von Frenken ? That fat bugger, what do you expect of him ?”
    “I expect him to divulge some secrets to our good friend the king of England. He can not afford to have either of us become too powerful.”
    Cathaoir stroke his red beard with a perplexed grin.
    “If you say so. What next ?”
    “Come back to Leon and practice your skill with a lance. Gaillard loves tourneys, he will want to resume them as soon as the war is over…”
    “And accidents happen.”
    “Indeed. Go now.”

    And his secret son left through the secret door with his secret letter.
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  16. #76
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    Gaillard did not come back before fall, with seven hundred soldiers. By then the news had reached Galicia of Lovell’s defeat at the hands of Sæwald of Normandy. The English king had unexpectedly abandoned his campaign in Wales and rushed North to fall on him as he was besieging York. The captive king had to subscribe to all his enemy’s terms, abandoning most of Normandy and the Welsh marches. He would remain hostage in London for several months more, until his ransom could be paid, and the cadet branch of the Normandies triumphed as never before since the death of Courtheuse.

    That was Maertijn’s last joy. That evening he felt very weak and went to bed early. At now sixty he had become frail and trembling, with wrinkles running between the fleshy scars Lovell’s punch had left on his bony face. He fell asleep, and never woke, or so people guessed when they found him on the morning, already cold, with a peaceful smile on his thin lips that they had seldom sported during his life. In his stiffened fingers he had clutched a long lock of blond hair, and Gaillard was left to wonder whose it was.



    (in other words a failed attempt at grabbing all his demesne in a rush - missed it by that much !)
    Last edited by Kuipy; 10-01-2009 at 02:31.
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  17. #77
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    Sad time, cruel times.
    The life in medieval age was not pleasant it seems.

  18. #78
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    As I posted on the other thread :

    Since nobody is showing up anymore, I consider the game shelved.It may resume if and when there are people interested - although I do not have much hope.

    It was fun though.
    If it does not resume in a few months I will write a (non-gameplay related) conclusion to the current arc and that will be it.
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  19. #79
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    Lovell shows people who he is

    Kuipy (King of Leon)


    They say that in Normandy every story begins with a meal; but now all Aveline wanted to taste was her husband’s lips. When he kissed her neck his trim beard brushed on her fair skin. Gently he rolled at her side, careful not to hit her swollen belly. They smiled to each other and she let her hands roam over Gaillard’s strong, hairy chest and his large shoulder. The old scar was still there, two spans below them, on his right side.
    Like most of the Two Bastards’ descendants Gaillard was a big man, but strong and shapely, with only the faintest hint of a gut. Where her sisters’ husbands were old and gouty, hers was tall, handsome, and tireless. And he loved her. She could only thank her father to have arranged her wedding with him, although the latter’s reasons for that match were nothing but political.
    She could still see him stroking his white sideburns and explaining her mother, ten years before: “He really is quite the man, a real Norman. Quite the king England would need, really, if it comes to that. And our cousin besides, by his Breteuil mother. Not to mention that after four years his brother has yet to produce a son of his own.” She could still remember his smile the first time they met, a frank, genial smile, and the weird shyness she could read beneath it. She remembered walking to the altar, and their first night after that. When the baby kicked in her she also remembers the previous ones, their two daughters.
    “Maybe it will be a boy.” she whispered to him.
    “What did Isaac say?”
    Isaac of Toledo was her husband’s physician, a stooped, shrewd Jew who had saved his life years before. Though she disliked his rasping voice and his prying fingers, he was a man of great learning, and surprisingly deft with his long spotted hands.
    “He says nothing can be certain for now. But in Exeter there was a hermit that would predict a child’s sex for a coin.”
    “Where are Cornish hermits when you need them?” he kissed her. “I need to go now.”
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    “Do not leave me. Please. I have been so scared.”
    He laughed at that and kissed her again.
    “The war is over, dear. The duke of Porto has bent the knee, the algarve of Toledo has fled. And besides I am invincible.”
    He was not, of course, and she always feared for him. Men were such children and swords cut so deep. She had lost her father during the war with England, without having ever seen him again after the wedding. It could have been Gaillard. But he just landed a last, soft kiss on her perfumed fingers.
    “When my brother departs we will have all the time we want.”
    “I don’t like him” she hissed.
    “You should. He is a good king.”
    “Only so much as you council him. He is vain, and fickle, and… And cruel, they say.”
    “It is not his fault” he answered “You do not know all he has been through in Beaumaris’s hands. Even I do not know…”
    He always spoke of his brother with an awkward melancholy, and never liked to broach the subject.
    “You would be a better king than him. You almost were. All it would take…”
    “Never” he snapped. “ It was my mother’s notion.” After their partisans’ defeat Mellicent de Breteuil had retired to a monastery in Northern Wales. “Lovell is my brother. And my king. I will hear no more of this, nor will I tolerate you to spread such rumours about him. Is that clear?”
    Gaillard was a gentle husband and a caring father, but when he was angry his voice became again that of a lord and a warrior, strong and rash, and she knew better than to argue. When she bowed her head in defiant agreement he put on his clothes and walked out, without a world. Tomorrow he would forget today’s anger, she knew. But he would not change his opinion, ever. Who could help her? That Jew Isaac, maybe, who knew so much about philters and charms. Maybe he could be bought or guiled into doing something about Lovell, but what would he ask in exchange ? There was no mistaking the looks he gave her young body, or the quivering of his gnarled hands when he got to palpate her.

    With a silent sob she went to the balcony, witnessing him wall sullenly through the inner garden, gravel screeching beneath his soldier's heavy boots. When she had rode alongside her husband from Oviedo to the pink brick walls of Castel-Saint-Jacques, she could not believe she could survive in this parched, desolated land, nor bear its blazing sun. But the Moorish gardens of Zamora, in her husband's own castle, were a marvel to behold. She could scarcely believe all the colors and perfumes ; there were flowers brought back from islands afar, somptous peafowls, garish siskins and chirping lovebirds bought in the markets of Alexandria. Hidden, whispering streams kept the shadow of lemon trees ever fresh. Palms and roses mingled over wicker walkaways.
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