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Thread: Tá ár lá linn - A Munster AAR

  1. #1

    Tá ár lá linn - A Munster AAR

    Tá ár lá linn
    "Our day has come"



    Hello all! After a long, long time silently perusing these forums, I've decided to undertake the great task of writing my own AAR. As I'm sure anyone that sees this will know, this is my first posting on these forums, but I've spent a long while reading some of the fantastic AARs already present here, and it has got me very fired up to try and do my own. So, before I layout what I'm doing I thought I'd give a shout out to some of the AARs that I've read that really made me decide to join up.

    First, and for most of you probably unsurprisingly, is the wonderful AAR "Rome AARisen" by General_BT. His ability to tell a story just leaves me dumbfounded and begging for more. If, for some reason, you have yet to experience his AAR, it can be found here.

    Second, I'd like to point out the brilliant AAR done by Mr. Capitalist, "Homelands". Which can be found here.

    Finally, my thanks and praise would not be complete without mentioning the first AAR I ever read, and the one that originally got me to read more, "The High Kings of Alba" by Lord Valentine. So, if you detest what I end up writing, you can blame him for bringing me here . His AAR can be found here.

    Now, onto what, I hope, you've all been waiting for, which is the introduction of my upcoming AAR - "Tá ár lá linn" which is a Munster AAR in which I'll be forming the Kingdom of Ireland, and uniting the Gaelic people under one glorious blue banner. This will constitute my first attempt at writing an AAR and my first attempt at roleplaying one effectively. I'll be playing the game with low AI aggressiveness and so forth because CK tends to get crazy enough without giving the computer more ammunition. I'll also be using the Deus Vult Improvement Pack designed by jordarkelf, and it can be found here.

    With all that being said, I hope I'm able to compare to some of the amazingly good works already up here, and I'd appreciate any commentary/criticism any readers might have. It'd be good to hear from some of you because it'd help me know I'm not just talking to myself, which makes the chance that I'm crazy go down significantly. Anyway, I should have my first update written and up very shortly, so I hope you all enjoy it!

  2. #2
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  3. #3
    Tá ár lá linn
    Prologue – Small beginnings

    March 1066
    The cold, March air swept through the halls of Torrdelbach O’Briain’s, Duke of Munster, castle causing the torches to flicker as the parish priest blessed his oldest son, Muirdertach, the newly invested Count of Tuadmumu. He pulled his heavy robes more tightly around him to try and keep out some of the cold. He’d survived almost 60 winters in this castle, the castle where he was born, where his three sons were born, and where he hoped his grandchildren would be born, but never had any of the coldest winter breezes bothered him as much as this brisk spring one. He shuddered at the cold, and sighed a relief when the blessing was finally done, hoping to quickly return to the warmth of his bed. It seemed that more and more often these days he lacked the will to rise from the bed to conduct the day to day affairs of the Duchy. For nearly, 43 years he’d ruled the duchy, holding onto it despite the constant warfare and strife that seemed to wrack the “Emerald Isle” of Ireland. That was the reason for the ceremony today; he hoped to begin educating his son for the duties that he knew would soon be thrust upon his shoulders. Torredelbach began musing over his final days as Duke of Munster, when his thoughts were interrupted.


    Torrdelbach, Duke of Munster and Count of Desmumu


    “Father,” said his three sons almost in unison. They looked at each other, as if deciding who was to go first amongst them. He hated this constant struggle for his attention amongst his sons, not to mention the countless courtiers all vying for the Duke’s attention or favor. After 43 years, it had begun to wear his patience thin. Muirdertach, the newly minted Count of Tuadmumu, took the initiative.

    “I’m sorry to disturb you father,” Muirdertach said quickly, “but I just wanted to thank you for allowing me to aid you in the running of the Duchy. Your generosity knows no bounds. I shall endeavor to do my best to make you proud.”


    Muirdertach, oldest son of Torrdelbach, and newly invested Count of Tuadmumu


    Torrdelbach wearily nodded and waved him away. He knew it was more out of decorum rather than actual gratitude that his son was thanking him. Most people, including his sons, thought that he should step down and let the next generation take over. All of them were so eager to change; none had lived through the same generations of bickering and in-fighting that he had. The uneasy peace that covered all of Ireland was something he wouldn’t let his young, ambitious sons upset, not just yet.

    Tadg, his second son, allowed the youngest, Donnchad to approach their father next. Despite all of his children being grown men in their own right, they seemed to retain all the bickering and attention-seeking of their youth. Donnchad gave a stiff bow to his father, a look of annoyance clear on his face. Torrdelbach always disliked talking to Donnchad, but, he must admit, it wouldn’t be easy being the third son.

    “Father,” Donnchad said iciliy, “I still don’t understand why Muirdertach should be given a title instead of me! It goes against all tradition!”

    At this, Muirdertach glowered darkly, and made as if to speak. Fortunately, he heeded, for once, his father’s hand raised to indicate that he should let his brother speak.

    “The laws of Munster are clear,” Donnchad continued, “The strongest son is to rule and inherit. By all rights that should be me, and you are deliberately cheating me out of my inheritance! Muirdertach is fine if you want to argue about the law, or find out the best way to make nice with someone, but Munster doesn’t need a negotiator. Munster doesn’t need to have fanciful discussion about law and politics. What Munster needs is a general, a general that will lead us to victory over the other petty nobles of this land, so that they’ll finally acknowledge us as their rightful king!”

    By this point, Donnchad had worked himself into quite the fit, as he was prone to do when discussing matters of inheritance. Torrdelbach merely looked on blankly, until he was sure his son was finished. Always best to let an angry child scream himself hoarse.

    “We’ve been through this,” the Duke said, in a voice barely above a whisper, “you are just not ready to be entrusted with this responsibility. I will not deny that you could best any of us in a game of tactics or battlefield exercise, but there is more to ruling than warfare. I have held this realm together in peace for the last 10 years, and I’ll not see you dash it to pieces just because you’re bored. If you’d ever been to war then you wouldn’t be so eager to spill blood! You can…”

    Torrdelbach had worked himself into a fit of his own as all of his frustrations with his son seemed to pour into this one speech. His speech was cut short, however, by a fit of coughing that wracked his entire frame. They were becoming worse as of late, and had begun to come more frequently. It seemed as though there was a constant weight pressed against his chest.

    “Father,” Tadg, his second son, said with a characteristically neutral expression, “Shall we fetch the surgeons?”

    The Duke waved his hand at him and fixed him with a glare. He hated being “looked after”. It was hard enough trying to run this duchy without his sons having an excuse to confine him to his bed.

    After several minutes of trying to catch his breath, the wheezing finally ceased, and he began to continue.

    “It…it takes more *wheeze* than a sw…sword to forge *wheeze* a kingdom.”

    And with that he slumped back against his chair, absolutely exhausted. Donnchad still looked annoyed, but seemed to accept that the discussion was closed for the time being, and he wandered off after giving his father another short, stiff bow. The Duke slowly rubbed his forehead with his hand. It grew harder and harder every day. Tadg approached his father again, his hands holding a large stack of papers. It was not yet noon, and Torrdelbach was exhausted, and he had yet to even begin to address the business of the day. He waved away Muirdertach, and motioned for Tadg to come forward so they could begin. He hoped to get through the day’s business quickly so he might have time for a nap. Naps seemed to help him have a bit more strength.

    “I have our most recent reports here, father,” Tadg said in that cool, neutral tone he was so fond of, “everything appears normal, just as it should. Urmumu was a bit short on taxes, but I’ve had it taken care of.”

    “Oh come now, let the peasants keep some of their coin. A few gold coins here and there aren’t going to bankrupt us, Tadg, have some compassion.” Torrdelbach said, grumpily. His son and he disagreed on many things concerning the affairs of state.
    “Father, you know as well as I that the duchy doesn’t make much to begin with. We can barely afford to put any away into our treasury. The only thing your boundless generosity will get you is taken advantage of. Where will the peasants be if we go bankrupt, hm? How will you explain to them that their homes were burned by the Ua Mordha dogs because you couldn’t pay your troops, will those few extra coins help them then? Our taxes are not extortions; they are what we are justly owed under the law.”

    The entire speech was always infuriating. It seemed like Tadg was constantly suspicious, always expecting an attack. In his younger years, he had made friends with many people from all over Ireland, developing them into a well-structured system of informants. It was one of the reasons that he was named spymaster for the duchy, but there were days, like today, that his father regretted it.

    “I know, I know,” the Duke sighed, “I just don’t see the harm in a few coins. A little extra in their pocket makes them a bit more pliable when you actually need a favor from them.”

    He’d always been good with people. Some said he seemed to have an innate ability to negotiate with others. To help them see his way of thinking and bring them around to what he wanted them to do, or to talk them out of a course of action. He only wished it worked on his sons.

    “Has there been any response to our call for a summit meeting between the Lords of the land?” the Duke asked, he signed and rubbed his eyes, already knowing the answer.

    The summit was something of his pet project, an opportunity for all the lords of the land to get together to try and forge a new future for Ireland. He thought if he could just get them all to sit down, he’d be able to hammer out a treaty that would allow for everyone to be happy, but for Ireland to have her king. He’d heard of a similar system being employed in Germany and far off Romania, he thought the principle a sound one, especially since of all the lords in Europe, he was sure that Ireland’s were the most fiercely independent.

    “No, father, not as of yet,” Tadg sighed, “but the weather may have delayed their reports.”

    Despite their disagreements, his son did try to keep him in good spirits. Truthfully, the summit was the only thing keeping him interested in the affairs of state at all. Achieving that would be a major triumph, and greatly strengthen Ireland.

    “Is that all, son,” the Duke asked wearily, rubbing his eyes to try to keep from falling asleep, “I’m not sure I’ll be able to stand the cold much longer.”

    His son shifted in what almost seemed a nervous manner, something entirely uncharacteristic of him. It was enough to make the Duke sit up straight and take note.

    “What is it, boy? Is there something wrong?”

    Tadg sighed before continuing. If Torrdelbach didn’t know any better, he’d have thought his son were going to battle.

    “It’s Donnchad, father, he is getting to be too much of a liability, to the duchy and the family.” Tadg, paused a minute before continuing, “If he stays here much longer, he’s going to cause trouble. It’s only a matter of time before his wild rants about him leading us to glory and victory start to convince the guards and army that he’s the right one to lead. He already spends nearly double the time with them than the rest of us do.”

    The Duke narrowed his eyes.

    “I will not exile my own son from his homeland.”

    “Father, respectfully, that is not what I’m suggesting. I have developed,” he paused and thought for a minute, as if choosing the wording carefully, “…alternative plans for him. I already have things arranged; all I’d need is your permission to carry it out.”

    To his own surprise, Torrdelbach, Duke of Munster, was considering his son’s words. There was a time when the thought of allowing his son Donnchad to be thrown into whatever plan Tadg had concocted would have been out of the question, but, lately, it was becoming apparent that something must be done.

    “Alright,” Torrdelbach said, “help me to my feet, and to my room. Tell me your plan on the way, and I will spend the afternoon thinking on it.”
    With that, the Duke lurched to his feet and took his son’s arm and the arm of a servant and began the slow, arduous process of returning to his room. He knew that tonight he’d have to renew his prayers to Almighty God for one more day of strength and peace.

    -----------------------------------------------------------------

    And, that concludes part one of the prologue to “Tá ár lá linn”! How long can the Duke hold the peace together? Will Donnchad rouse the armies to war? What is this plan that Tadg has for his younger brother? Stay tuned for the next chapter in our Irish saga to find out!

    Well, that’s my first chapter out and into the open field. It feels good to have it written, but I’d very much appreciate any comments all of you have on ways to improve and so forth. Also, I’d like to apologize for the lateness in getting this posted. I said, “soon” in my original message, but I’ve gotten caught up in school work, but that should clear up by Thursday. Look for the next update sometime later this week!
    Tá ár lá linn - My Munster/Ireland AAR. (Dead)
    Aquitania Rising - My Toulousian AAR (Dead)
    The Chronicles of House Gwynn - My Welsh AAR (Updated 02/27/2012!)

  4. #4
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    I must say I very much like this beginning. Consider me subscribed.


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  5. #5
    JDMS - Excellent to have you along for the ride!

    Qorten - Well, I hope the rest matches the beginning. Thanks for the compliments!
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  6. #6
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    Very good opening with great writing.
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  7. #7
    Tá ár lá linn
    Prologue – Creative Solutions

    May 1068
    The birds chirped happily in the tree and chased each other around the branches of the trees on the estate of Gui Guilhèm d’Aquitaine, Duke of Aquitaine. There was a warm breeze wafting in from the coast as musicians played a light, dancing tune. Torrdelbach sat next to the Duke of Aquitaine and watched as their children danced in time with the music. Despite the similarities in their age, the two men couldn’t have looked more different. Gui was dressed from head to toe in finery, and sat up straight, a broad smile on his face as he watched his daughter sway to and fro with her new husband. Torrdelbach, on the other hand, slumped heavily to one side of the throne prepared for him, his head sagged as he struggled to stay awake and he was covered by what seemed a pile of furs. His health had not improved in the 2 years since his son’s investment as the Count of Tuadmumu. Despite, however, the unshakeable chill in his bones, the constant wheezing, and the knowledge that his time on God’s earth was drawing to a close, Torrdelbach was contented. He remembered back to that day when his son and spymaster, Tadg O’Briain, had first told him of his plan for how to remove Donnchad as an obstacle to the smooth succession he so desired.


    Period painting of the marriage celebration of Donnchad and Agnes.


    Tadg O'Briain, Spymaster of the Duchy and second son of Torrdelbach.


    The beauty and serenity of today belied the infighting and harsh words that were exchanged when the plan was first put into motion. The Duke of Aquitaine had not been receptive to the suggestion that his daughter be married off to some “two-bit Irish warlord’s third son”. But, as always, Torrdelbach had found a way to negotiate a solution that would be acceptable to everyone. Donnchad had remained a hold out right up until the end. He recalled their argument before landing in France, quite vividly.

    “So, I’m to be cheated out of my rightful succession,” Donnchad fumed, “by being shipped off to France to be married to some simple-minded French woman? I’m to be an object of fascination for the French to ogle at? Some barbarian sent to amuse their desires?”

    “You know that’s not what this is, Donnchad.” Tadg recited in his placid, emotionless voice. “Father is merely trying to find a suitable wife for his son, and the Duchy of Aquitaine is one of the richest and most powerful in all of France. If anything, Muirdertach and I were cheated, why should YOU the THIRD son be granted such a privilege?”

    If he hadn’t known any better at the time, Torrdelbach would have thought Tadg’s well-rehearsed speech was as genuine as Donnchad’s protests. He was sometimes surprised at how easily Tadg could deceive others into believing he was being genuine.

    “Yes, well that’s all well and good,” Donnchad had said, “but if that’s the case, then why is my wife to inherit the titles and lands, and not me, or my son? I am to be the Duchess’ CONSORT, what kind of humiliation is this? She is a woman. Women. Do. Not. Inherit.”

    Donnchad had been so furious that he refused to don any clothes that might make him look the part of a noble. He raved that “if these people were going to think of him as a barbarian, then he was going to dress as one.” And dress he did, despite Torrdelbach’s best efforts, his son grew his hair and beard long in ancient Irish fashion, and refused to wear anything except the traditional garb of the peasants of Ireland. Needless to say, it didn’t make for a smooth first meeting between Donnchad and the Duke of Aquitaine.

    “Donnchad, you seem to be ah…bit more rough around the edges than I was expecting.” Gui d’Aquitaine said, with thinly veiled contempt, “I hope you’ve brought more proper clothes to meet my daughter.”

    Donnchad responded in his native Irish, refusing to speak any other language with the Duke. Things began to deteriorate quickly, but Torrdelbach was able to intervene.

    “As you can see, my son is quite proud of our Irish heritage,” the Duke of Munster began carefully, “He is merely acting the part so as to not be seen as trying to deceive your daughter into whom she is marrying. He merely wants to start off on the right foot with her. As I’m sure you know, what with a young daughter, children can be willful and petulant at the most inopportune times.”

    The Duke of Aquitaine considered this a bit before laughing, and continuing.

    “I suppose you are right, it will certainly be a new experience for my little Agnes. I don’t think she even knows such clothes exist. Well, she’s in for a treat at supper then. Come, we must discuss the particularities of the ceremony.”

    With that, the Dukes retired to the upper levels of the castle, to finalize the arrangements, and Torrdelbach was left to hope that his son wouldn’t cause another incident. Donnchad, however, surprised everyone by coming around rather quickly to the idea of marriage, though it was in large part to his first meeting with his future bride.


    Donnchad O'Briain, third son of Torrdelbach, Duke of Munster.


    Agnes d'Aquitaine, only daughter of Gui Guilhèm d'Aquitaine, Duke of Aquitaine.


    Agnes too, for her part, was quickly impressed with Donnchad’s tales of physical exploits and roaming about the countryside in Ireland. She had never seen much outside the walls of her father’s castle, so tales of what the common folk and their lifestyle were like very much interested her, as did her new, rugged, betrothed.

    The plans for the wedding came along quickly, and the two were soon wed at the chapel in the castle of the Duchy of Aquitaine. Torrdelbach couldn’t help but sigh again as he watched his son dance with his new bride. Everything, despite it all, had gone according to plan, and now the path was clear for Muirdertach’s smooth succession. He only hoped that his son would continue to maintain the peace that he’d helped create across Ireland, and that he would appreciate the benefits of a smooth succession to the throne.

    -------------------------------------------------

    Well that is the end of the second chapter of our prologue. Torrdelbach has apparently secured a smooth succession for his son, but will it play out like he’s hoping? Also, how long before the old duke finally succumbs to his illness, and leaves the realm in the hands of his son? Will his son continue the path for peace in Ireland, or war once again ravage the land? Find out in the next installment!

    As always, comments are very welcome and appreciated!
    Tá ár lá linn - My Munster/Ireland AAR. (Dead)
    Aquitania Rising - My Toulousian AAR (Dead)
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  8. #8
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    A clever exile for Donnchad! I'm liking this, consider me subscribed too!
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  9. #9
    Hypothetical Hegemon JDMS's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by General_BT View Post
    A clever exile for Donnchad!
    +1 Great update.
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  10. #10
    General_BT - It's quite an honor to have a reader as prestigious as yourself. I hope I don't disappoint, and any pointers you have would be much appreciated!

    JDMS - I aim to please. Thanks for your continued reading!
    Tá ár lá linn - My Munster/Ireland AAR. (Dead)
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  11. #11
    Sorry all about the lack of an update. I have been recovering from a trip/sickness/my sister's graduation, so I haven't had much time to write. I'm part way done with the third update, and should have it up in a day or two.
    Tá ár lá linn - My Munster/Ireland AAR. (Dead)
    Aquitania Rising - My Toulousian AAR (Dead)
    The Chronicles of House Gwynn - My Welsh AAR (Updated 02/27/2012!)

  12. #12
    Good so far! Always nice to see an Irish AAR.

    Looking forward to see how things go for Donnchad.
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  13. #13
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    For some reason when I look at this AAR title I get falanlan from EU:2 in my head. And that my friend is a curse, a damn curse! And you are to blame!

    So you better update a lot!

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  14. #14
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    Interesting, after having retrieved my own interest in CK couple of days ago (and now, for the first time, seriously try to dig into game mechanics) I started my own game with Munster yesterday before finding this AAR. Looking forward to see your version of the fate of all my mates from the court, subscribed.

  15. #15
    Hello everyone. As is probably clear, I strayed away from updating this AAR. I began having severe writer's block, and then school started up again and it just fell by the wayside. That being said, I've decided to try and start it back up. The updates will likely be sporadic as I tend to obsess about trying to get the wording and so forth just right. Please bear with me as I try to bring this AAR back to life. Someone get the paddles!
    Tá ár lá linn - My Munster/Ireland AAR. (Dead)
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  16. #16
    Field Marshal
    Crusader Kings IIDeus VultHearts of Iron IIIVictoria: RevolutionsEuropa Universalis: Rome
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    No trouble, sometimes taking a break is the best thing for an AAR - it allows the author to sit back and plot the future updates in more detail. In my experience at least

    I do hope however that this does resume. I've just read the above updates and thought that they were pretty good. You have the makings of a very solid AAR here and I look forward to reading the rest. The characters are particularly well done, especially Tadhg, although (IIRC) Agnes d'Aquitaine is infertile in DV
    Freedom in capitalist society always remains about the same as it was in the ancient Greek republics: freedom for the slave-owners
    VI Lenin

  17. #17
    ComradeOm- Yeah, I'm about halfway done with the next update as we speak. As for Agnes, she turned out to be fertile enough for Donnchad. We'll all find out what happened to Donnchad and his brood in a special update I have planned for later. Good to see I still have some interest!
    Tá ár lá linn - My Munster/Ireland AAR. (Dead)
    Aquitania Rising - My Toulousian AAR (Dead)
    The Chronicles of House Gwynn - My Welsh AAR (Updated 02/27/2012!)

  18. #18
    Tá ár lá linn
    Prologue – Stormy Seas

    October 1070
    The winds mournful howling matched the sentiments of those gathered around the grave of Torrdelbach O'Briain, the late Duke of Munster. For the first time in what seemed like ages, the three sons of Torrdelbach stood in silence by their father's side. Tadg, his usual neutral expression plastered across his face gazed grimly as the first bit of dirt began to cover the mortal remains of his father. Donnchad, having traveled all the way from his wife's estates in France, had tears streaming silently down his face, his fists clenching and unclenching as if he was ready to physically beat death back. Finally, there was Muirdertach, the newly invested Duke of Munster, who stood silently fingering his new chain of office.

    "It seems disgusting that we profit by death," he thought silently, "I've always waited with longing for the day when I could take power, but, now it seems to have come too soon."

    The three stood silently for a few minutes longer, the last bits of dirt being shoveled into place, and the rest of the mourners having departed for the warmth of the nearby castle. Muirdertach knew, as did the rest of them, that they would be expected soon in the banquet hall to entertain all of the guests, but it was Tadg that moved first.

    "Brother," he said, while pulling on Muirdertach's shoulder to turn him around, "we have affairs of state to tend to now. All the lords of Ireland are here. We need to make sure they don't get offended."

    Muirdertach sighed before replying.

    "It seems rather humorous to me that father spent most of his last few years trying to get all these men in the same room, and the only way he accomplished it was by dying."

    Tadg nodded silently. It's true that his father's death had brought all of the great lords together, but Tadg very much doubted the same things his father had wanted done would be accomplished. The truth of the matter was that Torrdelbach O'Briain had been one of very few people in Ireland that wanted to see peace maintained. Only time could tell if his desire would outlive him.

    Tadg worried to for the fate of the Duchy in all this. Muirdertach, though better tempered than Donnchad, was not a very capable ruler. He certainly tried his best, but his brother just lacked any sort of "spark". He remembered his father remarking, towards the end, that he knew that Muirdertach's only virtue was the blood that ran through is veins and that the majority of ruling and keeping the Duchy together would fall to Tadg. Tadg, for his part, was prepared to do whatever it took to keep the Duchy together, no matter the cost.

    Later that same day, inside the ducal castle in Desmumu

    To a casual observer, the raucous display in the main feasting hall of the ducal castle wouldn't indicate that a funeral was taking place. In the time between the burial and the feast in remembrance of the former Duke people had thrown off their black mourner's clothes and changed into a wide-range of colorful evening wear. In fact, the only indication at all that a funeral had just taken place were the three somber figures sitting at a table on a raised dais, all of whom were still wearing their black attire from earlier.


    Muirdertach, Count of Tuadmumu and Desmumu. Newly invested Duke of Munster


    Muirdertach picked at his food disinterestedly. He had no appetite. His world had been thrown upside down in the past few weeks, and soon he'd have to turn his attention to running the duchy. He'd already heard the rumblings and rumors. HE was no Torrdelbach or Donnchad. Even in Tadg, his brother and confidant, he could see doubts, well hidden to be sure, but doubts nonetheless. No one, however, was as outspoken or disagreeable as the current Count of Urmumu, Sechlainn Ua Faeláin.


    Sechlainn Ua Faeláin, Count of Urmumu


    Though the Count had sworn fealty to him as he had to his father, it was clear there was more than a little hesitation on his part. It had never been easy to subjugate an Irish lord and make him a vassal, and the Count of Urmumu meant to test just how far Muirdertach was willing to let him go. Muirdertach pondered the situation silently as he slowly stirred the stew before him. Then, as if he were summoned by Muirdertach's thoughts, the count appeared.

    "Oi, 'ow ye doin' thar yer grace? Sorry, 'bout th' ol' man, but mebbe now we can finally tax those damn peasants wot they deserve!"

    Muirdertach rubbed his face, and made no effort to hide his disgust before replying.

    "Perhaps we should wait until after the funeral banquet to begin tarnishing my father's memory? I'm sure you'll have plenty of time to bleed your lands dry shortly."

    The count glowered darkly. Muirdertach had broken a cardinal rule of rulership, calling out a vassal in front of an audience. It wasn't very tactful of him, but, not entirely unexpected either. The Count and Muirdertach had often squabbled with each other prior to Muirdertach's crowning as the Duke of Munster.

    "Well, look'it tha moighty Muirdertach tellin' meh 'ow ta run ma lands. Oi, migh' be mistaken, but dinna' I 'av ta teach ya 'ow ta get yer sword outta tha scabbard? An wer na it you tha fergot ta have yer taxes collected on time?"

    The room descended from a loud, boisterous affair to a sense of apprehensive silence as people took note of the confrontation between Sechlainn, the count, and Muirdertach. The crowd began to quietly snicker at the mention of Muirdertach's ineptitudes. It was moments like this that stood to define Muirdertach's future relationship with his subjects. If he reacted too harshly to this direct defiance and attempt at embarassment then people would yearn to be rid of him, and view him as a tyrant. If, however, he reacted too leniently then no one would respect him, and he would lose control of his own lands. A good ruler would try to strike a middle road, and a good ruler would have known that it would be important to put the count in his place, but not completely alienate him. Unfortunately for Muirdertach, he was anything but a good ruler.

    In fact, Muirdertach managed to take the worst things from both extremes. Upon hearing the count's words, he immediately stood up and grew red in the face. After several seconds of sputtering and fuming, he was finally able to yell, "Guards! Escort this man away from the feast!". He managed to appear both inept and weak, and somewhat tyrannical at the same time. Sechlainn, grinned openly as he walked out with the guards. He knew that he'd scored some points today, but everyone now knew that Muirdertach was not the ruler his father was. Quietly, the plots began to form.

    ---------------------------------------------------------------------
    There ends the third part of the prologue. Stormy seas appear to be on the horizon for the Duchy. Will Muirdertach be able to recover from his first blunder? What sort of plans is the Count of Urmumu hatching? Will the Duchy last or will it descend into the clan warfare that consistently plagues Ireland. Stay tuned to find out!
    Tá ár lá linn - My Munster/Ireland AAR. (Dead)
    Aquitania Rising - My Toulousian AAR (Dead)
    The Chronicles of House Gwynn - My Welsh AAR (Updated 02/27/2012!)

  19. #19

  20. #20
    AlexanderPrimus- Thanks for reading! I know what you mean about the Gaelic names, I have no idea how they're pronounced; I'm just thankful that I only have to write them.

    And without further ado, the next update!

    ----------------------------------------------------

    Tá ár lá linn
    Prologue – The Hammer Falls

    November 1082
    Almost 12 years had passed since the ascension of Muirdertach O'Briain to the ducal throne of Munster, and those years had brought nothing but headaches and misery to the duchy's spymaster, and now de facto ruler, Tadg O'Briain.


    Tadg O'Briain, Spymaster and de facto ruler of the Duchy of Munster


    As the last rays of sunlight faded away into darkness, Tadg sighed as he looked upon the mountain of paperwork still on his desk. It was a rare occasion now when he got to bed before midnight, and tonight looked no different. The years had not been kind to him, his hair had begun to gray rapidly after his brother took the throne. To be sure, part of it was due to his advancing age, but, and he was loathe to speak ill of his kin, most of it was due to his brother's utter ineptitude at ruling.

    "Candle," he called to the servant he knew was sitting near the doorway. He would need it if he was going to look over these grain allocations and tax forms for much longer.

    "Will there be anything else sir?"

    "Yes, tell my wife I will be unable to join her for supper, and that I'll have mine brought to the study."

    The servant bowed before leaving. In truth, it was unlikely he'd eat at all. There was simply no time for things like eating, let alone having a nice dinner with his wife. The role of spymaster had always been taxing; it was difficult to keep track of all the itinerant lords of Ireland and the surrounding countries. He was, however, now more than a spymaster, he was the shadow ruler of the entire duchy. Where he used to only review reports from his various sources in the duchy and abroad, he now reviewed grain shipments, tax collection rates, and ruled on them accordingly. In fact, his brother had become so far removed from the affairs of state that Tadg had been given a signet ring so that he could seal documents on his own, without having to get the Duke's approval.

    Tadg set down the most recent form on grain shipment to the county of Urmumu and tried very hard to rub the soreness out of his eyes. He leaned back and thought back to how the last twelve years had gone, and how it'd all gone so terribly wrong.

    Certainly the starting point for the downhill slide began with Muirdertach's handling of the Count of Urmumu at their father's funeral. It was a small illustration of the problems that Muirdertach had as a leader. He was indecisive most of the time, and when he did decide something he seemed to have a knack for choosing the one decision that possessed all of the bad consequences, and made him appear the fool. This, however, was really just the beginning of more major problems for the duchy.

    In most instances, the handling of the Count would be considered a social faux pas for a ruler, but not much more than that. It was understandable that someone might not have the best head for decision-making right after the burial of their father, so most members of the duchy had kind of shrugged the whole incident off. Soon, however, Muirdertach gave them another stick to club him over the head with. Tadg groaned silently to himself as he remembered Muirdertach's next major blunder in handling his troops.

    For centuries, the main thing that kept a chief, king, or other leader in power in Ireland was their ability to gather and lead a group of men as an army. While this had become less necessary in the past few decades with the advent of the concept of claims and titles, it was still a very important skill for any Irish leader. That is why, several months after becoming Duke, it was odd that Muirdertach had not held any troop exercises or review of his troops. In fact, he hadn't so much as consulted with his military officers on what the army might need to be battle ready. It had taken Tadg a full week of pleading, cajoling, and threatening to get his brother to finally go conduct some review of the troops.

    Muirdertach had ridden out to one of the border forts along the border of Desmumu and Urmumu. It was a calculated move meant to illustrate that he was prepared should the Count of Urmumu try any sort of shenanigans. The review was going swimmingly as Muirdertach walked around the small wooden complex and reviewed the weaponry. The men seemed to appreciate the attention from their liege, and even asked him to spar a bit with them. If only he'd refused things might not have started their decided downward slide. Muirdertach had never been known for his fighting prowess, but he had been determined to spar with some of his men that day. He'd boldly strode over to a weapon rack and grabbed himself a claymore. He then turned and strode to the sparring ring. Even as his opponent readied himself, Muirdertach was already having trouble with the unwieldy weapon. The men gathered around the sparring circle glanced at each other as they watched the Duke wobble to one side and nearly drop his sword before the marshal finally stepped in and showed him the appropriate grip. The tentative glances turned to snickering and, in some cases, uproarious laughter when, within the first 10 seconds, of the sparring match the Duke's sword was sent flying from his hands and he received a boot to the chest which left him sprawled on the ground. He was quickly picked up by his personal guards, and made a joke in about "being out of practice", but the damage had been done. In less than two weeks, the story was being told in all of the military posts throughout the duchy, and Muirdertach had cemented his position as an inept fighter and leader amongst his military.

    That incident had left the Duke shaken to his core. He seemed incapable of making any decisions and would frequently countermand his own orders. This lead to problems across the board like uneven taxation (because the Duke had a habit of sending and then recalling tax collectors at random, which led to some provinces being taxed twice and some none at all), this led to unrest, which the Duke let fester and swell because he was too nervous about what decision to make. And, of course, there was the Bread Incident a few years ago. Tadg audibly groaned at just the thought of it. He'd been at the middle of most of these problems, trying with all of his might to keep the duchy together, but it was becoming an increasingly difficult task. With that in mind, he picked up the last report and began a quick scan. Just grain being shipped to Urmumu, nothing all that interesting, but something was nagging at the back of his mind. Tadg shuffled through some papers on his desk and produced another report.

    Yes! Another large shipment of grain to Urmumu only a few weeks before, and his agents had report large groups of peasants moving along the roads in Urmumu, which was normally not something to be alarmed about, but...coupled with the grain. Tadg set the reports down and leaned back in his chair, stroking his goatee. What was going on in Urmumu? He brought out a blank piece of paper and began writing.

    Elsewhere in the castle

    Ailean O'Briain laughed as he deftly parried a blow from his sparring partner. It may not have been clear to everyone, but Ailean knew the fight was over; he'd found his opponent's weak point, and was just waiting for his opportunity. Enna Ua Mordha, his opponent, swung his sword meanacingly whilst circling Ailean. Ailean, for his part, kept calm, always facing his opponent. Enna was a good fighter, but had a tendency to favor pure brawn over any sort of martial style. He would subject his opponent to unrelenting, powerful attacks until they were too tired to resist, but Ailean had a plan. Enna's strategy depended on his opponent choosing to meet him and block or parry the blow, so, Ailean would do neither and, instead, let his opponent swing the heavy practice sword at air until he grew tired himself. So far, the strategy was working. Enna's attempt at being menacing wasn't enough to cover his flushed cheeks and sweat-soaked brow. He raised weapon to attack and swung down hard, a powerful overhead strike. Ailean, instead of blocking the strike, lightly dodged out of the way and struck Enna straight across the back with the flat of his practice sword, which sent him flying and left him sprawled on the ground. Ailean smiled in satisfaction before jogging over to help up his friend.

    "Oi, Ailee, sparring isn't as fun when you're the one getting thwacked," Enna groaned as he was helped to his feet.

    "True enough, I think that's why the aim is to not get thwacked." Ailean chuckled.

    In truth, the whole exchange was odd for two reasons. First, no one expected Ailean O'Briain to be any good with a weapon at all. This was due mostly to the fact that he was the son of the decidedly inept Muirdertach O'Briain.


    Ailean O'Briain, son of Muirdertach O'Briain, and heir apparent to the Duchy of Munster


    It was also odd for another reason. Ailean's opponent, Enna Ua Mordha, was a member of the rival duchy of Leinster. The relationship between Munster and Leinster was always wavering between love and hatred. This was due mostly to the fact that they constantly competed to be the most powerful political force in Ireland. Recently, however, the two had been on amicable terms as both Dukes had been having problems with adjusting to being the ruler of a large duchy. For his part, the Duke of Lenster had sent a small diplomatic group to Munster; it was meant to serve as a sort of permanent diplomatic link between the two territories, so that future problems could be solved before they were blown out of proportion. So far, the group had had mixed success. Most people could remember the warfare that raged between the two less than a decade ago, which was only ended by marrying Torrdelbach O'Briain's sister to the then Duke of Lenister, Diarmit Ua Mordha.

    In the castle, however, the Ua Mordha's were welcomed with open arms, and Ailean had become fast friends with Enna. In fact, Enna was about the only person in all the castle that could match Ailean in a duel, though that wasn't apparent from today's result. The pair began walking toward the castle's kitchens with the intention of securing themselves one of the pies they knew would be waiting on the chef's cooling racks. Their plans were foiled, however, by the arrival of the most feared woman in the entire duchy (to children in the castle anyway), Alis Ua Aedhagan, the duchy's steward. Alis was really only the steward in name. Ailean's uncle, Tadg kept a pretty tight-fisted grip on all aspects of the duchy and was suspicious of anyone that tried to take on any more responsibility than he gave them. Alis, therefore, was reduced to being what was essentially a head nanny for the castle. The boys cringed as she approached

    "You two better not be intending to go and steal some food from the larders. If I have the cooks come one more time to me and complain I'll have both your hides!"

    Enna and Ailean gave each other a sly look before Ailean responded innocently, "Oh honest Lady Alis, we weren't going to get none of chef's pies, we was just thirsty is all."

    Alis crossed her arms and pursed her lips. She was having none of their nonsense.

    "Now you two don't be going and telling tales like that. I'll have Father Tizzone down here and let him deal with you if you little rapscallions keep on like that."

    The boys gulped. Father Tizzone was an Italian priest that had just arrived from Rome. He had a very harsh and dogmatic way about him while he preached, and that attitude transferred over fairly easily in the way he corrected those who he felt strayed from the straight and narrow path to God. The children had given the nickname "God's Wrath" to Father Tizzone's corrective lessons.

    Enna was the first to respond by saying, "Oi mam, we don't wan no trouble, let's keep Father out o'this."

    Ailean nodded in agreement. Even the Duke's son wasn't safe from the wrath of God.

    "Right, we were just going to go find the Marshal to see if he'll give us an extra lesson before dinner."
    Alis put her hands on her hips.

    "Oh no you're not. You boys have had quite enough practice for one day judging by all that dirt all over your clothes. No, it's straight up to your rooms to change for dinner. Especially you Master Ailean, you can't meet future duchesses lookin' like a potato farmer."

    The boys stood motionless for a minute before shrugging and heading off towards their quarters. Ailean may not have shown it, but these meetings always made him uncomfortable. He didn't really care much for the girls that all fawned for his attention. He had his mind set elsewhere. Specifically, he had his mind on the young Raghnailt Ua Mordha.


    Raghnailt Ua Mordha, daughter of the Duke of Leinster and object of Ailean's desires


    She'd arrived with the envoys from the duchy of Leinster, and he'd been smitten ever since. The problem was, his father had expressly forbid any marriages between the two. Muirdertach had been a soldier, briefly, in the fights against the Ua Mordha's, and had borne them a deep resentment ever since. In fact, most people were surprised he'd allowed the envoys to come at all. Ailean sighed as he reached his room and changed clothes, maybe he'd get a chance to sneak out with her after he'd listened to all the others prattle on about nothing. One of her best qualities, to Ailean at least, was that she wasn't afraid to run around and swordfight like the rest of the girls. Though, at the end of the night, she always insisted on being rescued by him like she was a damsel in distress. Ailean shrugged as he finished getting ready and headed down to the dining hall.

    In truth, he just liked being able to talk with her. She was the first person that he was really able to open up and be honest with, especially with matters concerning his father. While his father did his best to keep him insulated, Ailean had heard the murmurings about his father, and, to a lesser extent about him. His father's failings had started to make people question whether it was wise to let the O'Briain family be in charge anymore, and the whispers had only increased since Muirdertach's self-imposed seclusion from the world. If what the servants were saying was true, his father's health had taken a huge hit since he'd entered his own little exile in the upper reaches of the castle. Ailean wasn't sure what he'd do if his father died and he was expected to take over as duke. The very thought of it made his palms sweat and a tightness grow in his chest. He didn't think he was ready, sometimes, he thought he never would be.

    "I guess there's some things you just can't change," he said quietly to himself before entering the dining hall. He saw the long line of girls waiting to be introduced to him and sighed...it was going to be a long night.

    The Count's castle in Urmumu that same day



    Sechlainn Ua Faeláin, Count of Urmumu and generally disloyal fellow


    Sechlainn Ua Faeláin was reclined lazily in his throne, his head thrown back as a servant fed him grapes when a messenger from the Duke arrived. As the man approached, Sechlainn quickly sat up causing the servant to jump and drop the grapes she had been holding. The count, without a moment's hesitation roughly grabbed her and threw her down the small flight of steps that led to the raised dais that held his throne. She cowered there for a moment, before scurrying out past the messenger. Sechlainn smiled, he liked making sure that the servants knew their place. His smile quickly contorted into a frown that bordered on snarling when the messenger approached and began speaking without waiting for his approval.

    "My Lord Ua Faeláin, I come on behalf of His Grace, Muirdertach, Duke of Munster and Count of Desmumu and Tuadmumu. He demands that you make all haste to his castle in Desmumu, and tha..."

    The guards flanking the messenger slammed their fists into his stomach at a flick of Sechlainn's hand. He did absolutely hate servants that pretended to be above their station.

    "My lord, you'd assault a..."

    The messenger was hit again. This time it caused him to fall to the floor where the guards proceeded to kick him. The count let this go on for a bit before motioning for the guards to stop and finally speaking to the messenger.

    "Servants in my household know to speak when they're spoken to, I trust you've now learned the same lesson."

    Sechlainn grinned as he watched the messenger slowly rise and nod his head. Blood was dripping from his nose where one of the guard had kicked him and bruises were already starting to form on his face.

    "Now what would the Duke want with me?"
    The messenger looked around nervously before replying.

    "My lord, he wishes you to come and swear fealty to him again, and to answer some questions regarding your recent travels to Gwynedd."

    Sechlainn sat there, his face assuming a mock seriousness.

    "Oh, that sounds very serious. I guess I'd best be on my way."

    The messenger had not, apparently, realized that the count was mocking the whole situation made the mistake of responding.

    "Yes, I should think it is fairly serious. The Duke isn't pleased, your lordship."

    At this, Sechlainn smiled and folded his hands.

    "Oh, I'll bet he isn't, and he's going to be even less pleased with my answers. Of course, he'll never hear them till it's too late."

    The messenger looked confused, but had begun to realize something was amiss here, and began to slowly back out of the hall.

    "My lord? Certainly you don't plan to do anything rash."

    Sechlainn laughed and it sent a chill down the messenger's spine.

    "Rash? Oh no, I've planned it out quite well. The Duke still wonders why I went to Gwynedd. Well, he'll find that out soon enough. In fact, why don't you go tell him yourself. I've got the perfect message you can take to him."

    The messenger hadn't yet reached the door, and he stopped to respond.

    "And what message is that?"

    Sechlainn smiled again as he stepped lightly down from the dais and walked down the length of the hall toward the messenger. Once he'd finally gotten within arm's length of the messenger he stopped.

    "Yes, now do try to remember it. I'm sure you won't have any trouble, it's rather direct."

    Suddenly, the Count lunged forward and wrapped his arms around the messenger's throat. His guards moved to pin the struggling man's arms to his sides. Sechlainn cackled as the life drained from the messenger's eyes. After a few minutes, the messenger was dead and Sechlainn let the body drop to the floor and turned to his guards.

    "Cut off his head and send it back to the Duke. I think that will suffice for a reply to his request."

    Sechlainn strode back to his throne and whirled around before taking a seat.

    "Oh, and marshal the troops, we need to look our best when the Duke of Gwynedd arrives to finalize the arrangements."

    The guards bowed before dragging the body out of the hall. The count sat on his throne and stroked his chin. Soon, all his plans would come to fruition, and he could hardly contain his excitement.

    ------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
    And so ends the fourth chapter of Tá ár lá linn. What are the Count's plans? Will Muirdertach come out of seclusion to deal with them? Can Tadg hold the duchy together through the crisis? Find out in the next chapter!
    Last edited by Sergei Meranov; 09-11-2010 at 04:00.
    Tá ár lá linn - My Munster/Ireland AAR. (Dead)
    Aquitania Rising - My Toulousian AAR (Dead)
    The Chronicles of House Gwynn - My Welsh AAR (Updated 02/27/2012!)

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