[Author's note. This is just a draft to see if I can put up something worthwhile. Comments very appreciated. If readers like it (and now that I've finished subbing), I'll attempt to be more regular that heretofore .
And yes: pics upcoming .]
Intro: The Day of the Illyrians
1066-1070: If today is Sunday, this must be Trapani.
1070-1072: I though I'd seen a cute little cat... Ouch!
1072-1075: It's a long, long way to Dioclea. It's a long, long way to go...
1075-1078: Life in plastic, is fantastic.
1078-1084: Unleash the dogs of war. More. OK, that's enough.
1084-1085: No-one, no-one stops my party.
1085-1086: The time has come... to pay the bills.
1086-1087: The more I try, the more it seems to break.
1087-1088: It's a million to one chance, but...
1088-1090: It ain't easy being green.
1090-1091: Love and marriage, go together like...
1091-1092: Making friends and influencing people.
1092-1093: Ground control to Major Tom, it's getting rainy here.
[Draft chapter title]The Day of the Illyrians
[Initial cast: ]
Duke Mihailo of Dioclea, played by an old local actor.
"Brother" Wamba, played by himself. Speak with his agent. He's currently working in another period play.
[Scene: a clearing in a dense forest. On one side, the clearing opens, and overlooks a precipitous drop into a shining, wide, dark blue bay. It’s almost like a viewing balcony. The clearing is covered in grass. There is a rather large gray boulder near the seaward opening.
From the left, enter: an old man, richly dressed, winter mediaeval garb. Face drawn and taut. Walks morosely to the edge of the clearing, down on the bay. A retinue of servants waits in the background with horses.
The old man paces back and forth.]
[Duke Mihailo]: Stranded!
[Silence. The wind moves the trees.]
[Duke Mihailo]: Stranded! The damned Byzantines only let us go because we’re too poor and too stubborn to bother while they fight the Turks. The Turks themselves are coming. Meanwhile the Ragusans grab our land, and the Croatians eye it too. Even the land-robbing Normans look this way.
[Walks further, near the rock.]
[Duke Mihailo]: Shouldn’t be surprised. Dioclea, indeed! Djukla it was, and never was good for anything but sheep and wood. Ever since Rome first beat the Illyrians, we’ve been subjects of one or another. What the devil can I do!
[Kicks at stone, hard.]
[Stone]: Ouch! That hurt!
[Duke Mihailo]: What devilry is this…?
[Stone, unfolding into a young, lanky, unhygienic monk with a lopsided smile]: Is that a riddle? And who are you that so rudely boots me awake?
[Duke Mihailo, smiling]: Well, since it’s me holding the boot, shouldn’t you be the first to be introduced?
[Brother Wamba]: A noble reasoning, sir. Know, then, that I am the most humble brother Wamba, a travelling Saxon monk of the order of St Cuthbert. I am newly arrived in these lands and was looking for a local Bishop to serve, but the views and the game in these forests have held me under a spell for a while.
[Duke Mihailo]: Indeed! And how long have you been spellbound in this forest, brother Wamba?
[Brother Wamba]: Almost a year, my noble lord. And now, who do I owe the honour of kicking my humble ribs inside?
[Duke Mihailo]: A most unintended kick, I swear. I thought you were a rock. But as to my name, I am Mihailo of the house of Vojislav. I own some land hereabouts.
[Brother Wamba, bowing half-courtly, half mockingly]: Congratulation. Owning this wonderful land must be almost as good as being able to enjoy it, my lord.
[Duke Mihailo, chuckling, and then becoming serious and looking at the bay]: Indeed! I was just thinking that I may not be able to enjoy it long. This land is surrounded by wolves! Romans! Croats! Turks! Normans!
[Brother Wamba, somewhat wistfully]: Yes, no party is complete without Normans these days. But surely, my lord, a time of confusion is confusing for all?
[Duke Mihailo, knitting brow]: What do you mean, monk?
[Brother Wamba, putting on a pensive face]: If the wolves chase the Romans, and the Romans chase the Turks, and the Turks chase the Croats… who is to stop you from taking a kick at the Normans?
[Duke Mihailo, smiling bitterly]: About ten thousand lances, I think.
[Brother Wamba, scratching his chin]: That could be a problem, yes. But one that could be solved with careful planning, audacity, and initiative…
[Duke Mihailo, growing testy]: Yes? And tell me, monk, what would you do if you were in the boots of the ruler of Dioclea?
[Brother Wamba]: Well, my lord, since you ask… I’d go back to the town, fast. There’s a cold wind rising and we’re not dressed for the evening. And none of us is getting any younger.
[Duke Mihailo]: Ha!
[Brother Wamba]: Then I’d start raising the levies against Ragusa. Their alliances are weak and the Croats will be there ahead of us if we don’t act fast…
[Duke Mihailo]: But…
[Brother Wamba]: Of course that would only give you another dirt-poor mountain province. But with the four regiments in hand, if you look across the Adriatic…
[Duke Mihailo]: Across the Adriatic? Have you been picking mushrooms in the forest, monk?
[Brother Wamba]: Of course, my lord. A monk without a bow has to take what he can find. But I also took some notes of Southern Italy on the way here, and…
[Exit: The two men walk deep in conversation across the grass to the waiting horses and servants, the Duke with much gesticulation. They are helped on to two animals and the group canters down the mountain.]