The Jews won't do it.
It would have too bad effects all across the continent against Jews.
The Jews won't do it.
It would have too bad effects all across the continent against Jews.
Well, it would not be the first time. But Josce probably rather meant that he and Rolland would never met again.
Of course fictitious farewells never work.
Kuipy (Kingdom of Leon and the Isles)
For all his science Josce was a poor gardener, and every spring it became harder on his back to bend and tend to his garden. But hellebore and poppy were crucial to his trade, and he did not trust anybody else to take care of them, no thanks. He had that rare distinction among physicians of the time to have only ever killed on purpose, and meant it to stay that way. So as long as he could, he would clear and water his small, orderly patch of scrawny medicinal plants, and every spring he would scrape his knees and knead dung over his precious seeds, hoping a few of them would grow and flourish. It was not that different from statecraft, he thought bitterly: another domain where his successes were scarce.
“You ai’nt no real gar’ner,” a blond stabbleboy said.
“You are no real stabbleboy either… my lord?”
The boy looked at him intently. He could not have been more than fourteen, maybe less, but even when he smiled there was a strange air of seriousness in him.
“What gave it away?”
“Your accent. Too forceful, too deliberate. Like the dirt on your hands. No stabbleboy would have as much, or as even. Liars always betray themselves by being too eager to be believed. That, and the horse hair on your shirt, it’s almost all below your belt. A stabbleboy would have most of it on his chest, from the grooming… But you are no son of Tore, either.”
He knew all three of them after ten years in Argyll. Where else in England would he have gone? The Saxons disliked him for a Norman, the Normans loathed him for a Jew and the Jews hated him for a traitor. Only Duke Tore Cabesat de Vaca had been grateful enough for his erstwhile help to hire him as his personal physician.
“I came here yesterday, as a ward. Do you know who I am?” the boy asked mockingly.
Josce peered at the deep, dark blue eyes. They were full of spirit and mischief, ablaze with the familiar hints of an indomitable temper. Slowly it evocated a young, forgotten face, and the aging man found himself struck by the recognition. The chin, the nose, almost everything reminded him of his first pupil. He fumbled for a rag where to clean his hands.
“Rolland’s son. You are prince Robert.”
“Rolland’s son?” the prince looked amused “How well did you know my father?”
“We were close, once. As close as you could get to him. I actually hold you in my hands once.”
“Really? Who are you?”
“My name is Josce. Master Josce, once. Did he ever tell you about me?”
Even after all those years it hurts. But what could he have expected? Most people would have glad to hear the king had forgotten their quarrel.
“I was his teacher, when he was your age.”
“Teacher? What did you teach him?”
“I was… I am a physician and a philosopher. I taught him logic and history, laws and languages. The natural sciences. The art of statecraft.”
“Some would say you have failed.”
Some would have said that, yes. But when he looked at the young man, so alike his father, Josce wondered if he might have a second chance.
And where has Josce himself studied?
Second failure would be awful... but this kid looks prodigy, such wise words from such an youth.
Josce studied medecine as an apprentice under master Moses. He then travelled extensively throughout (and out of) Europe, learning from different masters and also on his own. He is a very smart man even if his attempts at appliying his knowledge to the real world often backfires.
... Now that I say that I actually realized why I had no difficulty writing the Josce arc : it's a complete rip-off of Star Wars. Because like, Josce is like Obi-Wan Kenobi, he studied under a brooding badass who was killed near him during a battle before he could really finish his formation, so then he undertook to teach a gifted young man who was too proud and unstable and turned to the dark side, so then his former pupil started to kill the old dudes in his community, so then he confronted it and went in exile, and then twentysome years later he meets the son of his former padawan who is gifted too and he decides to teach him, and they join a rebellion against his father.
Time to diverge before Lucas sues !
Solving a new problem
Kuipy (Kingdom of Leon and the Isles)
London was afraid, hungry, and sick. There was a stench in the air that master Josce thought he remembered from the time of the plague, in his childhood, and a rumble in the crowd that his people had long learned to fear. Rolland ought to have done what he would never do, and left to the safety of Castle Dyfed. A baker was standing in front of his empty shop, arms crossed. Something in his eyes made Josce shut the curtains of his carriage. Even in this famished town one could make a he had heard puppeteers could make a living by showing the Black Robin get his comeuppance for mounting the son against the father, starving the realm, despoiling Christian virgins and drinking blood in a gold cup. If he was to be recognized the mob would tear him apart, and Rolland's last chance with him.
In the opposite seat Herodote was looking at him reproachfully.
“Yes. I know it is my fault you died. Poor boy.”
He reached to stroke the stuffed monkey and winced. Age had a way to hurt him by subtle jolts, as if to remind him how little time he had left for all he had wanted to do, and how much harder it would become, with time. Why did he have to do all that, anyway? There were so many things in the world, and so many worlds beside. Worlds to read about in ancient tomes or to ponder silently. Words beyond the seas or beyond the sky, lost worlds or made up ones. When the carriage suddenly stopped he winced again. A slovenly, tired guard opened the door and frowned at his sight. Josce climbed down with a sigh and without help.
“I have a letter of credence, but you don’t know to read.”
“Do you want to see the king?”
“Has the Throne room changed place in twenty years? I can find my way.”
“Never mind. Yes, the king.”
He followed the guard past two heavy portcullis, raised for the time being. The castle had grown large, Josce reflected, the large, desert keep of a king who fears his own people. Once inside the White bailey he met with the Old Marshall Murat, now stooped and fatter than he remembered. He had grown devout, too, and crossed himself when the Jew came closer to him.
“Heathen!” he hissed. “What are you doing here?”
“I came to negotiate a truce between the king and his son”
“Fie! Fie! It shames me to see a devil worshipper like you here.”
And he turned away. Fifteen years before they had drunk together. Josce went on.
King Rolland’s Throne Room was silent and empty. Even the guard did not follow past the door. Josce thought he had told him so. Hunched and thoughtful on his gold-plated crown, the king did not notice him immediately. His long blond hair had turned grey and sparse, he noticed. His shoulders were bent. His cheeks were hollow. He was old. So was Josce, assuredly. Maybe, when he finally lifted his dimmed eyes, all Rolland could recognize in him was a ghastly scar on his scalp and a long, bony nose.
Still he recognized it.
“Your Grace. I come to deliver an offer of peace from your son.”
“Do I have one?” the king asked.
Josce was now close enough to see the black stubble on his double chin and the red in his eyes. It was the face of a pathetic man, sapped by weariness and betrayal. If his enemies could have seen King Rolland, they would have lost their last qualms to march on London.
“You will need him. At your side. He asks for the place Crown Princes of Old had, to rule at your side as the first of your ministers. And he wants Bretagne as an apanage.”
“These things will not be mine to give for much longer. The war is all but lost. Blount and Meschines will march any day with forty thousand men. The rebellion he stirred was successful.”
“You will not lose with him at your side.”
“Him? And his five hundred lousy Poles?”
“There are other levies to be made in Bretagne. Give it to him and he can bring five thousand. And allies.”
“You mean Cabesat de Vaca?” Robert had been fostered at the duke's court, and, although unable to field a great army of his own, was in a prime position to prevent the other Northern dukes to join Blount and Meschines.
“Him and Henry of York-Lancaster.”
“York-Lancaster? He is a vassal of Meschines.”
“Yes. But his grandfather was'nt, and such things are not easily forgotten. Count Henry yearns for his lost ducal crown, and would not be loath to chop the head on which it rests now. Picture it : a third of Meschines's host, turning side a the crucial moment, while your son reveals himself at your side. If they have any sense Meschines and Blount will yield.”
“I will have their heads!”
“You shall pardon them and use their armies to reconquer the rest of England. And the next year, you can reconquer Spain and Ireland.”
“It could work,” his old pupil mused. “But York-Lancaster would take a risk, and so would we in believing him. Without guarantee...”
Josce bent forward.
“Your son married his daughter. In secret. Now the pact is sealed.”
“You taught him that!”
“He is an apt pupil.”
Rolland's voice grew tired and bitter again.
“Better than I was. Isn't he?”
“He is very much like you were. Strong, clever, handsome. Stubborn. He will not let anybody tell him what to do.”
“I remember.” the king snarled. " It all seemed to easy, then. There was so much I wanted to do, to change. But nobody had told me how hard it would be. Or maybe I did not listen. I had to give in, you know ? After a few years, the Jews were back at court. That, and so much more. You were right. I had to give in, again and again."
He looked down to his large, shaking hands.
“They asked for your head, you know? The Jews. It's strange. I was the man who ordered their precious rabbi burnt alive, I was the one who took hostages from them and confiscated their riches, and it's you they hate for this. It is against you they crave for revenge.”
“You denied them.”
“I did. For old times' sake.”
For a moment he did not look so weak and tired. For a moment he could see forgotten strength surface in the worn-out body, and flame sparkle through bleary eyes.
“He listens to you? My son.”
“Not always. Not often. But he is smart, he is... He has a gift. You need him at your side.”
The king nodded sadly.
“I need you, too. I wish I had... I... Bring me back my boy, Josce. Please.”
good King, listening to jews tends always to help ones country.
The end is near...
Kuipy (Kingdom of Leon and the Isles)
Floris Billung reined his mare in and wiped the sweat off his brow. There was something about the hamlet beneath the bridge that made the knight uneasy. Not a man, not a dog, not even a chicken was to be seen on the dust road between the dozen houses. The silence reminded him of those eerie, deserted villages he had seen in Russia, when the locals fled at the Tatars’ approach, or sometimes his. Those memories were not his fondest; and he had not expected to revive them in the very heart of the Burgundian Empire, on the hills above Genoa.
“What do you make out?” he asked Catherine, a six foot tall Flemish marquess who rode and wore mail like a man. She tilted on her saddle, uncertain. He turned to the other six riders of his retinue, Dutch knights and barons.
“I don’t see anything. Maybe we just scared them” Small-Floris said.
He listened intently in the direction of Lodjewik’s nod. The old warrior was right ; he could make out the clatter of hooves and even a muffled whinnying. Once again he contemplated the houses : they could make out were undistinguishable from normal, white-washed Occitan farms. Nobody in these shacks could have afforded a horse.
“We can look for another bridge.” Rudolf said.
“Not if we want to reach that inn before sunset,” one surly knight answered.
That decided Floris.
“We go through,” he ordered, hand on his sword's pommel.
They had rode hard since morning, with only the briefest of halts. His white mare was tired and restive ; small wonder she didn't have a kingdom at stake. For the thousandth time he cursed the Normandies. His own family hailed back to the time of Charlemagne, they had dethroned the Holland and conquered the Dniepr valley. Every one of their titles they had won and deserved, just as he deserved his brother's crown, should any harm befell him. And now these Normandies, who had manage to convince the childless Willem to marry their sister Odelt to king Rolland's damn second son, pretended to name his nephew the heir, on the pretense that Odelt was older than him by a few years. What of it? By every law that mattered sons came before daughters and brothers before nephews. Worse, it seemed that the Normandies had managed to get the support of seemingly every dutch malcontent, and the Estates of the Realms, at Breda, were restlessly petitioning Willem to name Odelt's infant son the heir. Madness ! And a dangerous one, at that. Lotharingia was in need of a man, a seasoned warrior to maintain the conquests in the East.
Vainly Floris had rode himself to Ortebello in order to query the Pope's support in this matter. As his predecessor, this one was a creature of the king of Finland, Rolland's brother, and he would not speak against that usurpation. So, frothing with rage, he was now riding North again with all haste, before his adversaries could sway his ungrateful brother too much. As his horse stepped on the narrow stone bridge, he cursed the Normandies once more, and one of them rode toward him.
The three riders at Robert de Normandie's side were unshaven and slovenly, clad in undied wool. But the Duke of Bretagne and Spain wore a black velvet cloak, attached with a gold brooch over a new leather jerkin. His crisp red boots and gloves seemed already drenched in blood, and he blocked Floris' way with a contemptuous smile, seated superbly on his grey steed. It was a charger, not a courser. Catherine already had her hand on the mace that hung from her belt. With a gesture he stopped her and turned to verify that the others were right behind them.
“My lord Robert” he said. “Are you not with your father at Breda?”
“Should we tell him?” Robert asked one of his men. He shrugged. “No, sir Floris. We are here.”
“This is Burgundian territory. The Emperor would be displeased if we wer to fight.”
“Will he?” Normandie raised a shining sword, and his three companions drew steel.
Floris' mind raced. There must have been one or two crossbowmen ambushed, but the Normans could not not have ridden unnoticed a larger party. So he had the numbers with him, although the bridge would negate that and their horses were tired while the others seemed fresh. Would a good charge break Robert's knaves ? He himself was only half sure of his escort. But what reassured him was the boy. Much was made of Robert's victories during the Norman Civil War, but their credit was as much his father's, or the duke of York's, or even the late marshall Valdemar Murat's, while Floris had fought seven years of bitter war against the Russians and Tatars. All he could see in front of him was a foppish brat with delusions of prowess.
“He will. Which is why I give you one last chance to surrender your weapons and let us pass.”
“One chance? I shan't leave you that many.”
When Catherine and Floris spurred their horses the Normans remained still, and he already thought they would caught them by surprise when the two detonations ranged. Floris' mare reared, Lodjewik rode past him and fell. Arquebutes, he thought. Catherine's mount had received the other ball and caught her leg under his corpse. The horse behind her was too fast, he trampled her, stumbled, sent his rider sprawling.
“No!” Floris had the time to shoot, then the others were on them, naked steel glistening. He felled a man with a gauntleted knock in the teeth and a swath of his sword then looked to see small-Floris on the ground, dying from a stomach wound. Behind him he could hear a rider galloping away.
“Die! Damn you!” he roared. “Die!”
He shouldered a second adversary away, and made his mare leap over Lodjewik's body, madly charging at the Norman prince. The two horses shocked and reeled, but Floris was the better rider. He pressed his enemy with a savage joy, striking at him until the splendid, princely sword shattered. For a moment their eyes met, then the prince waved his threw his heavy cloak in Floris' face.
A blade pierced his chest, too short to be a sword. He tried to struggle out of the dark cloth but his strength was abandoning him. His last thought was of falling over the parapet, with the velvet cloak around his head and a golden brooch still clasped in it.
A flemish marquess 6-feet tall and fighting?
Tell me more!
Last CK narrative update, although I will provide some appendixes...
Kuipy (Kingdom of Leon and the Isles)
First it was just a shiver, a spasm of the sagging throat. Fingers twitched in pain, feverish eyes opened in the hollowed face. The old king was awake.
Gilles Picot hurried near to him.
“Master Josce has gone to sleep, your Grace. He was very tired.”
“It's a lie. Only a liar would think of explaining why somebody” king Rolland explained in a hoary voice.“He did'nt teach you that?”
“No, your grace. Only medecine and physics. Are you in pain?”
“Why did he take you for apprentice, anyway? You're not one of those damn Jews.”
“I don't know. Maybe that's why.”
A dolorous chuckle answered him.
“Something he could have said. That much he taught you.” Dying eyes fixed the young man. “Where is he?”
“I do not know. Sincerely.”
The king groaned, licked his parched lips and twitched again. It was a strange thing, Simon thought, to watch somebody die. Master Josce had told him about it; mostly he had told him he would learn it on his own.
“Is there anything you want?”
“Josce. My son, Robert.”
“I think he is sleeping too.”
That made Gilles even more uneasy, to speak of him. But king Rolland had stopped paying attention.
“Young. He's young.” The prince was almost forty, with many children of his own. “I used to think of death as a sort of game, to laugh it off. Then I started to be afraid, to wonder; I would hope to face it gallantly, to be brave. I hoped... I... God.”
“You look brave to me.”
It was true. The bedsheet hid most of Rolland's bloated figure, unraveling only powerful shoulders and a sad, manly head. His face was livid and sweaty, framed by a savage, bushy beard, and looked very much like that of a Norman warrior of old, before the Conquest and the Reconquest. You would picture him lying gallantly in the mud of a battlefield, clutching a trusty sword against his heart.
“All those people I had killed, enemies… I don’t know any longer…”
The king’s brow creased with anguish. At his bedside an impassible monk was praying for him, and confuse words were trembling on Gilles’s lips when his attention was drawn by the opening door and Master Josce staggered in the room, his black robes smeared with gore.
“I failed” he muttered. A burly, fair-haired Norse captain had been helping him up the stairs who led to the king’s apartment. He still stood near him, protective and clumsy, a giant’s arm curved behind the frail old Jew’s back. The king jolted and narrowed his dim eyes.
“Josce? Is that you?”
“Me. Rolland… Your Grace…”
He bit his parched lip and cast an anxious look at Gilles. Would he say it?
“What is it?” the king asked. “Eilif! What is it?”
“The Prince, your Grace. He has been killed.”
In a burst of anger the king almost rose, then a pang of pain twisted his face and he fell back.
“Two men stabbed him in a…” the Captain hesitated “a hostellery. I brought him to the castle.”
“I tried to save him,” Josce added, in avoice close to breaking. “But he had lost so much blood, he was already unconscious, there was nothing I could do.”
“Your Grace.” Carefully the Captain answered, in as cold a tone as he could manage. “The men were killed trying to escape, but one of them, he had…”
“A purse full of Burgundian deniers.”
An uneasy silence fell, as all present pondered the enormous consequences of a few silver coins. The empire of Burgundy was the greatest power of the known world; his emperor could level twice as many troops in his demesne alone than Rolland and all his vassals together.
“That does not prove…” Gilles began, then stopped, aware how futile it sounded. They all knew.
“London is burning, Your Grace,” the captain pursued. “The mob is killing all Burgundians and burning their houses. The Prince was beloved, as you know.”
Master Josce buried his face in wrinkled hands, where caked blood formed brown sports around the nails.
“Your grandson will want revenge, too. He is the prince of Spain and Bretagne, now, he may be rash and confident enough to attack the Empire on his own.”
The king was gaping, oblivious, mumbling meaningless words about his lost son. Gently his old physician bent over him.
“Do you hear us, Your Grace.”
The dying man’s eyes fluttered, as if revived by the familiar voice.
“My son is dead, I… I want revenge.”
“I want him back! Bring me my son, Josce! Please!”
“I cannot. And now I have to leave, first for Bretagne, to see Robert’s son, and then…”
“No! No!” Rolland shrieked with surprising strength. “I’m dying, Josce. Don’t leave me alone, send Gilles…”
“Gilles is a physician, not a diplomat. Not a statesman. I have to go. To try and prevent a war we cannot win.”
He held his former pupil’s hand.
“I will be back, Rolland. I promise.”
Burgundy is huge!
Retribution should wait for a while...
Geneological tree of the Normandies
Kuipy (Kingdom of Leon and the Isles)
(in bold, crowned kings of the Normans)
The Kings of the Normans
Kuipy (Kingdom of Leon and the Isles)
A summary of kings of the Normans up to Rolland I, with dates of birth, coronation and death.
Robert Curthose or Courtheuse "the fortnight king" (1054-n-1115) : A textbook psychopath. Short, fat, crass, brutal and treacherous, with delusions of persecutions but a strange, pervert appeal. Lost Normandy proper at the term of a series of complicated gambits, spent the rest of his life intriguing for a kingdom title. Was finally elected king of Venice and held the title for two weeks before being assassinated.
William the Just (1076-n-1121) : Robert's son and a much more likable person. Fat but powerful, with long black hair and an amiable face. Conquered southern Wales together with his father and erected what was to become Castle Dyfed. Never sought a kingly title and was all the better for it. His two marriages to Holland princesses were the ultimate cause for much of Norman politics throughout the 12th and early 13th centuries.
Geoffroy the Bold (1093-1134-1134) : William's son. A large, brown-haired man, with a strong ressemblance to his great-grandfather William the Conqueror. Strong, courageous, and cruel, with delusions of grandeur. Conquered Galicia, parts of Mauritania and most of Ireland. Beat his grandfather by being king for minus one day, dying on the eve of his coronation in an ambush by the last undefeated Irishmen.
Dirk (Richard) the Pious (1106-1134-1144) : Geoffroy's brother. Looked very much like his father. Bishop of Northampton in his youth, succeeded Geoffroy and had marshall Castore executed. Lived a relatively eventless reign, in the shadow of Saxon England. Conquered the rest of Wales.
Jordan the Sad (1121-1144-1171) : Accessed the throne in his late forties. A melancholy, depressive individual. Faced with the rivality of his own son and a civil war, was forced to abandon all of his brother's African conquests to the muslims.
Saint Hugues (1147-1171-1193) the Lame, the Mad, the Brave, the Unfortunate, etc.: Jordan's son. The Norman Rasputin, a lecherous drunkard with a Messiah complex, who performed miracles, won battles, lost wars and beat one of his wives to death. As a results, contemporary opinions of him are largely a matter of perspective. Staked a claim to heretical Scotland during the Isles Crusade. His expedition in Bretagne ended in catastrophe and civil war. Died in the siege of Caen.
Lovell the Cruel (1186-1193-1229) : Hugues' (eldest) son from a commoner. In his youth, was used as a puppet and abused by his cousin Maertijn, the regent. As a result, grew up into an unstable, violent and paranoid king. Warred against England with limited success, losing Normandy but gaining the Marches. Conquered some Scottish counties and fought in Sweden at the behest of his king, in exhange for the Orkneys. Assassinated in a vast plot involving his sister-in-law during the second war against Britain.
Gaillard I the Tall (1188-1229-1232) : Lovell's half-brother and guardian angel for most of his reign. The Norman Charlemagne, a tall, regal, clever man. Thought by many to be a better king than Lovell, remained faithful to him to the end. Came to a peace with England and was soon assassinated.
Gaillard II the Fool (1215-1232-1244) : Gaillard's son. Known in his youth as a frivolous fop, went in post-traumatic disorder after witnessing his father's assassination and being injured. His mother ruled in her name.
Roger I the Lean (1209-1244-1257) : Lovell's bastard son and protégé of Gaillard I. Cunning diplomat and cynical politician, reformed and centralized the realm. Conquered most of Portugal, fought indecisively in Sicily where he died of the plague.
Robert I the Lion (1243-1257-1262) : Roger I's bastard nephew and designated heir. Extraordinary fighter and leader of men, conquered Scotland, won several decisive battles against England before dying of the plague as his uncle. Very strained relations with the Church over the war effort.
Bardol the Proud (1244-1262-1311) : Robert I's half-brother. Haughty and merciless, but a gifted politician and a natural born survivor. Abandoned Portugal to Roger's sons, finished the reconquest of England, subjugated Brittany, defeated Sicily and imposed Normandy as one of the great powers in Europe. Died of old age after an exceptionally long reign.
Robert II the Young (1277-1311-1333) : ascended the throne in his thirties. Nevertheless called "the young", as he was a younger son of Bardol. Frail and ailing, relied extensively on his Jewish advisers.
Roger II the Lazy (1304-1333-1359) : the Norman late Merovingian. Spent his day hunting, wenching, and drinking, leaving all matters of state in the hands of his father's increasingly powerful Jewish advisors.
Rolland the Gallant (1339-1359-??) : A knight of some merit and the first Norman king to recieve a comprehensive scholarly education under the controversial master Josce. As a prince, fought in Finland with his brother Fréry, who became Finland's first king. Sought to curtail the power of Jews in Court, with limited success. Faced a civil war involving his own son, the flamboyant Prince Robert. Later in life, launched several administrative reforms with the help of Prince Robert and Josce. As of 1399, dying of old age.
Madness tally so far
Basket cases : Robert Curthose, Saint Hugues, Lovell, Gaillard II (25 %)
Mostly functionals: Geoffroy, Jordan, Bardol, Rolland (25%)
Certified sane: William, Dirk, Gaillard I, Roger I, Robert I, Robert II, Roger II (50%)
Btw, how did you get those jews into your court?
You mean in-game? I did'nt. These are purely flavor characters, acting as (mostly) witnesses to game events.
Outside game mechanics, the first "useful Jew" was Isaac of Toledo, an originaly throw-away character who went from random traitor to personal physician to adviser to kingmaker, and eventually brought all his brethrens at court.