Armagnac: Will Daniel succeed? Neigh!
Daniel Carlson awoke to find he was a horse. Given what he had already been in the near century he'd been in the past, a horse was actually a step up.
"Am I any kind of special horse?"
Well, you're the King's favorite horse.
"That's kind of you. Too kind! What's your angle?"
Well, he's just now ten years old, so his fancy might well drift.
That sounded more like Chaos. "You may be right. So, Armagnac?"
Yep. Also has a type of liquor named after it, like the last French place we visited. Of course, as a horse, you won't be getting any of that.
"Right. Probably for the best. By the way, why does Death look like Vincent Price?"
Don't be absurd. Death does not look like Vincent Price.
"If you say so, although the resemblance is pretty compel--"
Vincent Price looks like Death. Remember, he was here first.
Daniel conceded that was fair. "How come seeing him didn't drive me mad, like seeing you would?"
Chaos let out a disgusted grunt. Seeing me wouldn't drive you mad. It would kill you.
"Semantics aside, that doesn't answer the question."
It's simple. Humans can accept Order, even Death when they must. But true Chaos would just look... wrong.
"Order did kind of look like Hugh Beaumont... er, sorry, wrong way around."
(Author's note: Hugh Beaumont played Ward Cleaver on the American television show "Leave it to Beaver" which was quite popular in the 1950s and 1960s. I saw a lot of it as a kid because it was always on TV in syndication. He's pretty much the perfect American conception of a dad. He always had a good lesson for Wally or the Beave. Here's a picture.)
Simple coincidence. I wouldn't make too much of it.
"Can you give me at least a rough idea of what you'd look like?"
Haven't you been listening? The closer I got to an accurate description, the better the chance you'd drop dead. Anything you can possibly imagine without my prompting isn't nearly wrong enough. For your sanity I recommend dropping the subject.
"Death said I couldn't die."
You can't, that's true, but the horror would be permanently imprinted on your mind. Every new form would die. You'd come back but you'd just die again. Death would either have to completely wipe your mind or let you finally die.
"Oh, fine. To business. What's the situation?"
Here's your economic stuff and your mission. It's a doozy!
"So I have to take on England? Great. What else do you have for me?"
Hmm? Sorry, I forgot this time. Maybe these millions upon millions of years are starting to catch up with me.
"When do I get to meet the King?"
A bit later. A regency council is currently running things, and to be honest, they're not very good at it. They have an awful lot at stake for this King to be smart and successful. He's 3/6/5, so I think their hopes are a bit misplaced.
Daniel was aghast. "365 pounds as a ten year old?! It's a small wonder he isn't dead!"
Chaos rolled his eyes. I said 3/6/5. You know, 3 out of 9 in administration, 6 out of 9 in military matters, 5 out of 9 in diplomacy.
"What's the lowest?'
3. Don't ask me why the scale is 3 to 9. It seems weird to me too. Although it's no... Paradox! Chaos, as predicted, fell about laughing.
"I don't get it."
The readAARs do! They're either laughing with me or plotting my eventual demise, which I warn them, would be a most difficult matter.
Daniel let it pass. A blare of royal trumpets saved from a reply anyway.
The young King of Armagnac, Jean de la Barthe, was arguing with one of his tutors. "Look, Henri, I'm gonna be king soon, and you can't tell me what to do!"
Henri gave the sigh of a man much put upon -- one Daniel knew quite well, having given it himself -- and responded to his young charge. "Sire, I would never dream of ordering you about. I am merely... suggesting... that you spend less time with your horse and more time learning your kingly duties."
Jean pouted. "But I love Horseford!"
Wow, he is dumb. That's about the stupidest name for a horse I've ever heard.
"I'm sure you do, Sire. But he's old and gamey; hardly a fit steed for the King of all Armagnac!"
"You didn't mention that part, Chaos."
Must have slipped my mind.
The King pouted a while longer, then left the stable.
By the end of 1492, the regency council was busy arguing about their next move. King Jean was constantly badgering them about attacking Bearn, thanks in large part to Daniel's work on the King's brain. Rather than use mind control, which he always felt to be a bit obscene, Daniel was more subtle. Every time the King or Henri said "Bearn" within earshot, Daniel dropped a horse apple. He thus conditioned the impressionable young King to associate Bearn with the stench of fecal matter, a neat trick that even Chaos appreciated.
Henri and the King walked into the council chamber while Daniel/Horseford munched grass just outside the window.
The regent, the King's uncle, stood as his young nephew entered. "My lord, we have agreed on the new weapons for our army. We shall adopt the Longbow!"
Henri nodded approvingly, but the King wouldn't have it. "That makes no sense, you dummy. Look at this description for these Irish clubs! We cannot lose!"
Maybe that kid's a little smarter than I thought.
"Because he made a bad argument?"
No, I honestly thought he couldn't read.
"It is about weapons, perhaps his stats make that easier."
Maybe. Sometimes, Danny boy, I think I'm in danger of falling in love with you. At least falling out of apathy, which is no mean feat.
The King hollered with all the fury a ten year old boy can muster. (Author's note: As a former ten year old boy, I can testify to the power of this fury.) The regents, wisely deciding that discretion was the better part of valor, acquiesced to the King's demands.
"That King has a set of lungs on him, but he's starting to lose his voice a bit. It's good they caved in."
Oh, I agree. In fact, I'd say the King was a bit --
Stop interrupting me. I was trying to say, the King sounds --
"I'll do anything if you save me from one more pun!"
After electrocuting Daniel into silence, he finished. He sounds a little... HOARSE! BAH HAH HAH HAH HAH HAH HAH!
Although Daniel couldn't respond, he did leave a very clear indication of his opinion on the ground. The indication was so clear that the regents shut the window.
Agostino Solaro, head of the Lollard heretics of Gascogne, cheered with all his might.
"My brothers in heresy, we are victorious! We have routed the King's pathetic army, seized this land for our own, and captured a prisoner!"
His second-in-command rose his hand. "Um, Captain, far be it for me to argue, but first, why call ourselves heretics? Doesn't that kind of undercut our position?"
"You may have a point, my friend. I don't really like the sound of 'Lollard', though. Doesn't sell as many t-shirts."
"Why would anybody buy our t-shirts? Also, what's a t-shirt?"
The Captain clapped his subordinate on the shoulder. "Perhaps my ideas are simply too far ahead of their time. What was your other concern?"
"How did you know I had something else?"
"You said 'first.'"
The Lollards looked at one another with some awe; their Captain was truly a brilliant man.
"Well, sir, you said we captured a prisoner, but I don't see one."
The Captain grinned and nodded to one of his men, who brought out Horseford/Daniel. "The King's most beloved horse!"
Everybody gasped. "The infamous Horseford?"
"The same! He shall surely pay a huge ransom to recover this old walking glue factory."
The second-in-command thought for a moment to ask him what a factory was, but decided against it. As everybody cheered, the sound of hooves approaching was muffled.
It was the newest general of the Armagnac army, Jacme du Cos de la Hitte. He had a new army with him, and alongside was King Jean, who screamed "Horseford! Kill these fools, General! Return my beloved horse to me!"
After a second battle at Gascogne, the heretics fled to Labourd, thinking the English would prove more hospitable. They were mistaken. The King held a great feast to celebrate the victory, giving Horseford the place of honor. It probably would have bothered most of those present had they not been too drunk to protest.
Henri tapped the King on the back. "Enjoying your feast, Sire?"
"Very much so, Henri. What about you, Horseford?"
Daniel nodded approvingly, looking up from his banquet of oats.
"You know, Chaos, these are pretty good."
I'll make sure to get you some when we're done. In fact, I'll make a mental nOATe of it! For once, Chaos's laughter didn't bother him, because he was busying being horrified by what the old teacher was saying.
"Would you take a look at this map, King?"
"Are you suggesting that the English are preparing for war?"
"How do you know it is against us, Henri? It could very well be Castille they are after."
Henri nodded. "A fair point, Sire. However, consider Castille is one of the mightiest nations on Earth and that they could easily fend off such a limited invasion."
Before the King could retort that Armagnac was every bit as mighty, a page ran in, panicked. "My lords, we are at war with England!"
The King, surprisingly, remained calm and collected, uncommon in such a young man. "Our allies?"
"We are deserted, my King. I fear our defeat may be nigh inevitable."
A very odd look came over the King's face. It was one nobody recognized, except for Daniel. The King was considering his options of what to do next.
"Gentlemen, let us prepare to fight as best we can, but if we are defeated, I must insist that our granaries be destroyed. We shall not feed these pig invaders!"
"You know, Chaos, this war doesn't seem entirely sporting on the part of the English. I thought they were all about fair play?"
Chaos shrugged. Maybe, but they also want to win. Winning can trump a lot of things.
"Can we do anything?"
I've underestimated our King, Danny. He's entering negotiations with Castille for an alliance.
"Will it work?"
I doubt it. Castille would win that war -- even with Hungary's recent declaration of independence -- but they'd be exhausted.
"That General did pretty good, but why did we retreat into Castille? Shouldn't we keep up the fight?"
I'd have to agree with you, ape-brain. That results in more chaos, after all. Unless... Chaos had a far away look in his eyes.
Shut your meat hole. I'm thinking.
Now officially declared King, Jean IV took personal command of Armagnac's army. The coronation was surprisingly short.
"Horseford, old companion, I think it's time to let you in on a secret. We aren't going back to Armagnac."
Daniel almost answered before realizing he was a horse, and thus that responding would have been at best pointless and at worst make things far worse than they already were.
"No, I plan to return with a huge army from Castille. I'm hoping to trick them; our flags are pretty close."
That's actually not a bad idea. I mean, I can hardly tell two of you apart; if this jerk can talk them into thinking he's a Spaniard, they're sure to follow his every command. It just might work.
"And of course, beloved friend, should I fail, I'll simply insist that I'm a Government in Exile and that the war can't end until I'm captured."
Uh-oh. That's less smart.
"Why? Seems like a good idea to me."
It's the wrong ga--, uh, just trust me. I don't think the King will accept Jean's proposal.
"I have also unleashed my ultimate weapon!"
"Doesn't he realize that embargoing England makes no difference?"
Yeah, but most of you morons don't listen to sense, even if it comes from a fellow moron.
The King entered Toledo and was negotiating with the General of the army to lead the attack. Jean hadn't anticipated that the General would see through his terrible French-accented Spanish. And as Chaos predicted, the King's plan to declare a government in exile failed. The King of Castille said that only a heart of iron can hold up to such stress. Failing that, Jean made the best of a bad situation. He turned his army over to Castille and was named a Duke in return. He lived there to the end of his days.
Of course, with no King and no army, Armagnac was easily taken by the English and annexed. Thankfully, Chaos ejected them from Armagnac in time.
They were going somewhere completely new.
Believe me, I'm as surprised as all of you are that Ryukyu is still around in 1498! I'll try to include a world map in the next update, if I survive to 1500, which may be unlikely