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Oh my... Geoffrey II is awfully good at alienating those closest to him, even Foulques likely would've joined a wife's war with little hesitation, if only to project strength and to protect his progeny.... Should Berard die before Geoffrey, I would truly worry for the state of the realm... The alliance with King Karel seems an interesting prospect, for it could even be useful against the King of France... Even so, I would imagine Guilhem has plenty of good options, possibly even heiresses available to him.... Excellent chapter!
True, but Beatriz wouldn't have been stupid enough to launch a surprise war when Folques was caught out on another warfront. She also better understood the political landscape than Ælfflæd, who basically got railroaded into this by her bishop and council. Folques would have showed up, but he would have rained down every choice insult Geoffrey employed here, and more, to her face, on the battlements, in front of everyone, before heading out to chop heads off XD.

Geoffrey sooooo close to seeing through his hypocrisy by viewing things through his son's eyes, then making a 90 degree turn away to scream more profanities. So on brand, I loved it. His hysteria will reach even new heights when he finds out Ælfflæd declared war so she could get crowned earlier. It may not have been entirely genuine, but Geoffrey's point about sacrificing his men for a foreign crown is a good one, I doubt his army is enthused to haul themselves across the channel *again* after so many years in the field.

Poor sweet Guilhelm, having his fantasy of his parent's marriage ripped to shreds before his very eyes. This whole family needs a flotilla of therapists, for real! Obviously, great chapter, as always!
 
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I wish to issue two apologies. The first is to anyone who may have been offended by my earlier post. I was very angry at Geoff, who in this episode reminded me, why God invented preparation H. The second is to the Tin Duke, who is no longer the most reprehensible D'Anjou. Geoff, your wife's sanity hangs by a thread even more slender than your mother's sanity thread. Elf's PTSD is bad, bad. If she is captured, within 24 hours, she would be stark raving bonkers (I think that this is the correct medical term). Geoff, you created this mess by murdering a good (unlike your mother's sperm donor) man and warring a child. (England, Narvarra When is the last time that Aquitaine fought an adult that was not grossly outnumbered? My guess is King Geoffrey's independence fight). FIX IT!!! The simple solution would have been Guilhem marrying the martyred king's daughter. Like a petulant child, everything must be Geoff's way. Geoff, just because you were born on third base, does not mean that you hit a triple. The first public word that Geoff said about Elf was one too many. Mentioning Elf's weight should make Royal Aquitainean Heuvos de Toro with a large tankard of good Saxon ale the national dish of England. Either support Elf 100% or go full Henry VIII and give her to the axman. 100% support includes shipping your whore out of town. (I can picture Ana as a Mongol concubine.) Kudos to Berard. Every member of the council has to wonder when the rabid king will turn on them. I was impressed with the AI calling the alliance. @JabberJock14, if the mark of good writing is to invoke emotion, this chapter is Walter Scott Prize worthy. Everyone, I am sorry for commenting when angry.
 

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I do worry about little Will. It seems he really thought his parents loved each other or were good people before today. Oops.

Also, he's already headstrong enough to leave when upset, and not just rhe tent but the county. This doesn't bode well for later on.
 
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The tenuous house of cards just fell over a bit. Straining relstions with his best friend and closest advisor (again) and his own son. And the Queen could easily be arrested and murdered for this. She might win by herself though...if the ai screws up royally which it might considering the distance.
Geoffrey's situation with Ælfflæd always had this tenuous truce feeling to it. Both can see the value of the other, but Geoffrey's too self-involved to fully consider his wife's needs, especially when she's hundreds of miles away. And with Ælfflæd realizing she's not liable to get what she wants no matter how much she plays by the rules, it will lead to things like this.

But Berard and Prince Guilhem serve as good reminders to him that he cannot control the emotions and feelings of those around him. He can still do as he pleases, but he will have to run afoul with those he does care for. Doesn't mean he won't... but it may give him pause.

I don't think Geoffrey would push as far as to arrest and murder the queen for this, but imprisoning her akin to Henry and Eleanor? Possibly. Of course it would help Ælfflæd's case if she wins. ;)

A magnificent update and all, but more importantly:
King Karel's facial hair is glorious.
Thank you. And yes, it is majestic. Perhaps he could give our relatively cleanly-shaven Occitan king some lessons. :D

I miss the classic ck2 chocolate box beard. Every man over a certain age used to get one, or a gandalf style one.
The Gandalf style one still kind of remains. Duke Simon has a rather impressive one as well, especially given he is 16. (Had I control of him, I'd have started more modestly, then worked my way up). The Norman/Anglo-Saxon and Germans though really do get some nifty looking facial hair.

Well that was a fun ride. Geoffrey reacted as I thought he would. I was worried for a moment that he would not come to his senses and honor his obligations. I think Berard's solution worked perfectly. Despite the problems that will come with this war in the Holy Lands there is a possibility for Geoffrey to improve his stature in the world.

I think a friendship with King Karel could be beneficial to Aquitaine.
As Ælfflæd noted, he might be dragged kicking and screaming, but a victory probably would serve them both very well. Of course, she may not have exactly planned on Geoffrey having her do most of the work, if there is a victory to be won.

But kicking and screaming he was. Given his prior ego issues, and problems with women challenging his authority openly (rather than flattering him into it, ala Essa or Ana), Geoffrey was always going to explode. And in this case, I do have some sympathy - it's not just the war dec without his consent after all, it's all the demand to come to her aid.

It would be a beneficial relationship, if it is pursued.

Glad you enjoyed that ride!

Seconding this. That beard alone gives him more right to rule than any of the pomp and ceremony of the beardless emperors.

Once again, Berard comes to the rescue as the outward voice behind Geoffrey's conscience. I've said it before, but I'll say it again -- Geoffrey really is blessed to have a friend who has both the moral character to see the right thing and the wherewithal to confront him when he's heading down a path that may end up destroying him. It'll be a dark day when Berard is gone for good.
Beard = Right to Rule? Simon and Ancel would approve of a Specialist290 papacy. :)

Berard's advice has been useful, perhaps because he's not one to openly disagree or defy Geoffrey often. We've seen it a few times, but mostly he stands in support (as he does at the beginning of the chapter). It makes his changes of opinion more poignant and influential on Geoffrey. It also helps he does know Geoffrey's weak points.

Hopefully, that day where Berard isn't there for Geoffrey never comes!

Is Geoffrey an Islamic sympathizer? His goal should be clearing Iberia of infidels, not worrying about his hurt pride. Greater Occitania should include southern France and northern Iberia. The only Islamists north of Gibraltar should be court eunuchs. Baby Geoff and Margo can be used to forge alliances. Rescue Elf. Then make the Iberian infidels option A, B and C. Quit bullying good Christians like Navarra. Let the Pope worry about the Holy Land. The Occitan inquisition should make the Spanish inquisition look like child's play.
Not a sympathizer. Just egotistical and sensitive to any open challenge to his authority, especially by women. He does say he would fight heathens in Iberia, but the Holy Lands are a very different proposition. (And in fairness, he's right. Transporting men to Acre is time consuming and not fun. Though with just one county, he could probably take the entire county in a year.)

I would like Iberia to include at least northern Iberia (Catalonia, Aragon and the Basque country), but there may well be roadblocks to that. Getting claim over the Christian kingdoms is actually fairly difficult!

I imagine many rulers in the game's Christendom would agree with your opinion/advice, however. Aside from leaving the Pope to worry about the Holy Land.

Things went far too well in the beginning. Sure, we knew what was coming... But Geoffrey's outburst was still glorious :cool:. He can be lucky that Bérard acts as voice of reason yet again - and for once, he acted before making the mistake. Granted, it was because Bérard clearly showed him the possible consequence of the mistake, but it isn't like his amorous adventures' potential for disturbance was a great surprise. Shows that he's learning, even if it comes down to waving a giant signpost in his face saying "do this, and I do that".
Then again, the comparison is problematic insofar as with his lovers, Geoffrey can always say that "nobody will ever know".

Now I'm looking forward even more to the royal meeting that may take place during this war one day. Likely when Geoffrey comes to Ælfflæd's rescue, not as her knight in shining armour, but rather as her black knight of vengeance ;).

King Karel looks like a great ruler. Not just his admittedly great facial hair, also his character. His guardian tried to mould a man who could strike from the shadows, but Karel rejected that destiny and grew up to be a man fully deserving of his epithet of "the Wise".
Of course. Part of that was narrative device, since you all knew what was coming. But some of it was just circumstances, especially as I sized up the situation. The implosion of the HRE and the rebellion against Simon? Unabashedly good things for Geoffrey.

And yes, Geoffrey's outburst had to be worth the price of admission. After all, you all knew it was coming. Plus, he has that Angevin temper he has to live up to.

The England situation does nicely offer up conflict between husband and wife which doesn't have to fall into the cliche things about affairs and disagreements over who inherits what among the children. (Not that it won't happen, but the friction caused by having two rulers in their own right opens up for opportunity) And the result also will be people drawn into the conflict, especially those close to them. Geoffrey's actions, as Berard says, has involved them, whether he wants to admit it or not.

I do give Geoffrey a little credit for listening. Only because I doubt either the Iron Duke or Old King Geoffrey would have.

Oh there will be a royal meeting. But there will be a few rather important events in between that could mitigate or exacerbate that eventual reunion.

Your summation of Karel is top-notch! There may be no one better at deducing backstory and ideas of characters from the traits than you!

Oh my... Geoffrey II is awfully good at alienating those closest to him, even Foulques likely would've joined a wife's war with little hesitation, if only to project strength and to protect his progeny.... Should Berard die before Geoffrey, I would truly worry for the state of the realm... The alliance with King Karel seems an interesting prospect, for it could even be useful against the King of France... Even so, I would imagine Guilhem has plenty of good options, possibly even heiresses available to him.... Excellent chapter!
Hmm, Foulques... not sure how he handles that one. He had difficulties with Geoffrey I over going to war, though he did eventually join due to reasons you mentioned (as well as Agnes' interceding on Geoffrey's behalf).

Berard's made himself valuable to be sure. It would be a tragedy if he died earlier than Geoffrey, but we'll see what CK2 had in store for us!

You're right that Guilhem has plenty of interesting options. And there are plenty of political reasons for Geoffrey or Ælfflæd to want a certain candidate.

True, but Beatriz wouldn't have been stupid enough to launch a surprise war when Folques was caught out on another warfront. She also better understood the political landscape than Ælfflæd, who basically got railroaded into this by her bishop and council. Folques would have showed up, but he would have rained down every choice insult Geoffrey employed here, and more, to her face, on the battlements, in front of everyone, before heading out to chop heads off XD.

Geoffrey sooooo close to seeing through his hypocrisy by viewing things through his son's eyes, then making a 90 degree turn away to scream more profanities. So on brand, I loved it. His hysteria will reach even new heights when he finds out Ælfflæd declared war so she could get crowned earlier. It may not have been entirely genuine, but Geoffrey's point about sacrificing his men for a foreign crown is a good one, I doubt his army is enthused to haul themselves across the channel *again* after so many years in the field.

Poor sweet Guilhelm, having his fantasy of his parent's marriage ripped to shreds before his very eyes. This whole family needs a flotilla of therapists, for real! Obviously, great chapter, as always!
I think this is also a fair point - I doubt Beatritz does this. For all of Ælfflæd's rationale for why this is a good thing, it was done with all the clumsiness one might expect from a person of her political caliber. It's certainly not something Agnes would have done. It actually has a bit of Marguerite on one of her moodswings ring to it. Foulques probably would have done the insults and thensome. He threatened Haldora over far less.

I'm glad you enjoyed Geoffrey's reaction and it's always nice to hear you kept your central character in character. There's a level of experience and levity Geoffrey tends to have when viewing his parents at this point, but it's always harder to do the complete analysis when it also involves you directly. I also agree his men won't be too pleased to know they are being told they have to keep going. There's a certain war weariness that Geoffrey has been trying to avoid that will be harder too now. It also may delay other plans he had.

The prince was always going to have the facade ripped off eventually. He was somewhat fortunate it took this long for him to be confronted by it. Margo got it before, being forced to be separated at her father's order. And Guilhem himself was young enough where he doesn't remember his mother's self-imposed exile, or young enough where he doesn't realize those long periods in Angouleme were not because Ælfflæd thought they needed a break from Bordeaux. ;)

Thanks for your kind words and high praise. Always appreciated.

I wish to issue two apologies. The first is to anyone who may have been offended by my earlier post. I was very angry at Geoff, who in this episode reminded me, why God invented preparation H. The second is to the Tin Duke, who is no longer the most reprehensible D'Anjou. Geoff, your wife's sanity hangs by a thread even more slender than your mother's sanity thread. Elf's PTSD is bad, bad. If she is captured, within 24 hours, she would be stark raving bonkers (I think that this is the correct medical term). Geoff, you created this mess by murdering a good (unlike your mother's sperm donor) man and warring a child. (England, Narvarra When is the last time that Aquitaine fought an adult that was not grossly outnumbered? My guess is King Geoffrey's independence fight). FIX IT!!! The simple solution would have been Guilhem marrying the martyred king's daughter. Like a petulant child, everything must be Geoff's way. Geoff, just because you were born on third base, does not mean that you hit a triple. The first public word that Geoff said about Elf was one too many. Mentioning Elf's weight should make Royal Aquitainean Heuvos de Toro with a large tankard of good Saxon ale the national dish of England. Either support Elf 100% or go full Henry VIII and give her to the axman. 100% support includes shipping your whore out of town. (I can picture Ana as a Mongol concubine.) Kudos to Berard. Every member of the council has to wonder when the rabid king will turn on them. I was impressed with the AI calling the alliance. @JabberJock14, if the mark of good writing is to invoke emotion, this chapter is Walter Scott Prize worthy. Everyone, I am sorry for commenting when angry.
LOL. I think most people take the responses in stride.

Geoffrey is too shortsighted to care about his wife's sanity. If she were captured and broken, then he might well feel guilt over it. It wouldn't be the first time Geoffrey did something only to feel guilty about it later.

On the when's the last time they fought someone on equal footing? The Occitan revolt, where Geoffrey I was outnumbered and had to hire mercenaries. Other than that? The Angevins have endeavored never to fight in a war where they were at a disadvantage, in keeping with medieval military tradition.

Ecgwyn is sadly unavailable for marriage. She is already married to one of the princes of Munster, if I remember correctly. (She's definitely married, I just forget which minor Irish lord's son). Geoffrey certainly would disagree Burgheard's was a good man thanks to Adelise's impassioned arguments and Ælfflæd's inability to muster any defense. Was he good? I don't know. I didn't control him, so I don't know what exactly he planned.

Geoffrey does sometimes act rather petulant. There is an irony of him mentioning her weight, which is purely out of spite since he probably likes her shape. (attraction to her has never been a problem) I will say killing Elf isn't really an option - even the worst medieval rulers would probably blanche at that. Eleanor aided her sons' rebellions against Henry II in OTL and she got imprisoned. But never executed. Henry VIII's executions were a new level of tyranny in a way.

Ana... not going anywhere. There will be an update about her in the next chapter.

The councilors probably do feel a bit threatened, but I imagine someone embarrassed as well. They all got caught with their trousers down, so to speak. Geoffrey's warning to them was a fair one - though he should be the first to heed it. Only Berard seemed to understand what Ælfflæd was capable of, perhaps because Lida gives him a bit more insight.

I'm glad it evoked that much emotion from you!


Gotta say, this has to be the most satisfying chapter so far. Seeing Geoff squirm is quite enjoyable... serves him right!

Of course I assume everything will go to hell after this, but for now I'll enjoy my schadenfreude.
Well that's high praise indeed. Thank you! It does appear this was a pretty popular chapter, based on the reactions. And I agree, it is nice to see Geoffrey knocked down a few rungs. His ego has been a bit out of control as of late. It's ironic that a few chapters back Ælfflæd noticed it and tolerated it - and now she's the one to bring him down after deciding she's done with playing around.

The war had a few surprised for me. But the next few years sees some rather major changes in the life of Geoffrey and Ælfflæd. I remember saying a while ago that it feels like nonstop things happening from the moment the scheme to murder Burgheard kicked off... and it is. Lots to come in a relatively short period of time.

I do worry about little Will. It seems he really thought his parents loved each other or were good people before today. Oops.

Also, he's already headstrong enough to leave when upset, and not just rhe tent but the county. This doesn't bode well for later on.
There was only so long he just see the facade. It's also an interesting dynamic that we haven't seen before - their ages. Geoffrey is about as young as you can be and still have a child. I believe he's 27, with a 10-year-old. So he'll only be 33 when Guilhem is 16. (Ælfflæd is a bit older). Thus Geoffrey is the most youthful of the Angevin parents in this story, and he's usually the least experienced among them when it comes to just about everything. And, should everyone survive, it sets up a king who is still in his prime, with a fully of age prince with his own ideas and ambitions - even more so than Geoffrey I and Foulques the Younger, where at least Geoffrey I was well into middle age when his son was coming into his own.

So there *might* be some conflict for them down the road. ;)

To all - it seems this chapter was quite well enjoyed! I'm glad, it was a fun one to write. Geoffrey getting to be so angry but have *some* justification was a nice chance to let loose. And honestly, it was an exaggerated reaction to my own. I was pretty livid when I got that message demanding I join the Holy War. It was after I had not called England into the war with Navarra because I figured Ælfflæd didn't need any opinion hits with her vassals. And that was the reward we got. Obviously the AI is not that calculated, but there's no reason we can't add sophistication for the purposes of story.

The Holy War will be something that affects things, and has a few surprises in store for us. But we've also got other things to deal with - this current war, some things with Rome, and other nations in Europe. Oh and someone close to Geoffrey deciding to make a rather uncouth request - which is what we'll be dealing with next chapter.

In the meantime, thank you for your support, kind words, critiques, comments, readership and everything else you all provide. It remains greatly appreciated!
 
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JabberJock14

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Just a quick update - no chapter coming this week. With my son starting school, and other things going on, I might finish the chapter, but I won't be able to edit and go through it in time. Apologies for the delay, and hope to be back with it next Wednesday! I will also note this may not be the only delay in September, as there are some personal things on the horizon that could slow things down.

Thanks for your patience and apologies for the delay! Hopefully, I can find a good schedule to keep producing at my normal pace in the coming weeks.
 
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Just a quick update - no chapter coming this week. With my son starting school, and other things going on, I might finish the chapter, but I won't be able to edit and go through it in time. Apologies for the delay, and hope to be back with it next Wednesday! I will also note this may not be the only delay in September, as there are some personal things on the horizon that could slow things down.

Thanks for your patience and apologies for the delay! Hopefully, I can find a good schedule to keep producing at my normal pace in the coming weeks.
I hope your son settles in as well as possible, given what is going on.
 
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Be well.
 
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Here I am commenting late again, but with four AARs and now a mod project on the go, I need to apply my focus in sequence. :eek: And there is always so much to see and consider in your chapters. :)
Geoffrey’s breathing was rushed, and his eyes nearly bulged from his head. “That fat, ungrateful bitch. After I raised her… spilled the blood of my knights for her… and let her claim rule…”
“You understand?!” Geoffrey shouted. “You understand it? No you don’t! Have you ever spilled the blood of your men to raise an ungrateful woman to the throne of a barbaric realm? And then had that woman try to force you into a war a half a world away?! No, no you haven’t. None of you have! I will not hear anything of this, and you are to send word she is on her own!”
“NO!” Geoffrey shouted. “I don’t want to hear anything else from anyone! Out! OUT!!!!!”
Ah, the man child in full flight. There is nothing so terrible as to behold the anger of an ego scorned! :D
he’d terrified his own child.
The shame. Perhaps the trigger point for him to start coming back down from his stratospheric rage.
“He’s too stubborn to see reason. His wife hurting his ego is all he cares about. Nothing else and no one else matters.”
Ah, exactly. The bon mot.
The king continued to scream at the top of his lungs, not caring who heard him, as his words grew less and less clear, his shouts becoming intelligible shrieks in the brisk, early evening air.
Amusing regression. I actually enjoyed seeing him so furiously but impotently angry. Even though I realised a lot of this would have been recalling your own (no doubt less incoherent but nonetheless real) reaction to the news.
And yet, despite his best efforts, his friend’s promise left Geoffrey unable to resist a small chuckle.
Again, no doubt a mirror to your own realisation that Elf’s cleft stick had been placed in exactly the right place to be most uncomfortable, but that life must go on.
Duke Simon has a rather impressive one as well, especially given he is 16.
I had noted the great and justified praise for Karel’s great beard, but he’d had nearly 70 years to grow it; I was similarly going to note Simon’s suddenly very luxuriant display for someone who had only been shaving a year or two! A beard worthy of a trendy hipster barista. For example:

F20B7122-CDA8-46EC-8637-533AD6CA62E1.png


And yes, Geoffrey's outburst had to be worth the price of admission. After all, you all knew it was coming. Plus, he has that Angevin temper he has to live up to.
And honestly, it was an exaggerated reaction to my own.
I suspected so, as you had foreshadowed. I say well done game, for making things a bit ‘interesting’ - and providing you, then us, such a narrative gift! :D

Best of luck with the school adventure. It’s a big time and one to devote all the time you can, of course.
 
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No worries, life comes first...
Thanks for your understanding!

Real life always comes first. No need to stress yourself over writing and posting. We will be here when you are ready. Good luck with school. Take care and stay safe.
Thanks! I always stress, cause I want to continue the story. But sometimes it can feel daunting, especially when I consider how much I still have left to get through. I look through my files and I find new things I want to add to the already established narrative! And there's only so much time in the day.

My son's doing remote learning, which is... interesting to say the least. And takes up a fair amount of my time, at least for now. We'll see how it goes.

I hope your son settles in as well as possible, given what is going on.
Thanks. He's disappointed because he wanted to go back to school in person, which he hasn't been able to do since March. He misses other kids. And getting him to pay attention to teachers on a screen is hard. But we felt it was the safest option.

As above on all counts. Life has been crazy for all of us lately, so glad to hear you and yours are continuing to do well :)
Thanks. It's been a difficult ride for many. My wife's had a rough year - really since the start of it! She continues to push through, and I'm just trying to help the best I can. Hopefully things continue to improve.

Thank you!

Here I am commenting late again, but with four AARs and now a mod project on the go, I need to apply my focus in sequence. :eek: And there is always so much to see and consider in your chapters. :)


Ah, the man child in full flight. There is nothing so terrible as to behold the anger of an ego scorned! :D
The shame. Perhaps the trigger point for him to start coming back down from his stratospheric rage.
Ah, exactly. The bon mot.
Amusing regression. I actually enjoyed seeing him so furiously but impotently angry. Even though I realised a lot of this would have been recalling your own (no doubt less incoherent but nonetheless real) reaction to the news.
Again, no doubt a mirror to your own realisation that Elf’s cleft stick had been placed in exactly the right place to be most uncomfortable, but that life must go on.
I had noted the great and justified praise for Karel’s great beard, but he’d had nearly 70 years to grow it; I was similarly going to note Simon’s suddenly very luxuriant display for someone who had only been shaving a year or two! A beard worthy of a trendy hipster barista. For example:

View attachment 622160


I suspected so, as you had foreshadowed. I say well done game, for making things a bit ‘interesting’ - and providing you, then us, such a narrative gift! :D

Best of luck with the school adventure. It’s a big time and one to devote all the time you can, of course.
No worries - you picked a good week to be late, since I was forced to skip a post last week.

Yeah, I was thinking about Geoffrey's man-child-ness yesterday/this morning. I deliberately try to write him that way to emphasize his youth. While I certainly understand that more was expected a younger age then than it is now, I feel like it doesn't mean that his mind is actually fully developed at 16/17, even if it's expected to be! As he's gotten older, I have tried to limit his severe childish breakdowns, or at least have them come off as childish stuff in the manner of how adults do them.

BUT on rare occasions, I feel it's good to dive back into the 16/17 year old Geoffrey mental state. It's not completely gone, after all, and certain events can trigger them. This is one of them.

I drew on a few things for the scene. Yes, my reaction was rather profanity laced, though not as loud or prolonged (it is a game after all). But I also channeled my six-year-old son, who often is at his worse when he's not getting his way but is determined to fight against it, despite all reason. He's gonna have to give in, but he's not going to make it painful before he does.

That beard actually is reminiscent of Simon's beard! One thing I do wish is they had smaller beards for young adults. But I guess that's the peril of having the same portrait age for young adult run from 16-30. I don't doubt Simon could have managed such a thing at 25 (even if his father is clean-shaven in middle age!)

While I can complain over the AI's decision making, I can't deny it spiced things up. I'd have preferred Elf called Geoffrey into some war against the Welsh or Irish, but this certainly adds to the drama.

Thanks, remote learning requires much more effort from me than the alternative! But with the makeup of my household, safety first!

To all - thanks for your patience. As noted above, it's been an interesting week as my son started school, remotely. At the moment, his six-year-old focus (or lack thereof) forces with me to be with him while he has his classes, which is most of the day. That can sometimes mean time to write, other times, it can be a lot of hand-holding. So we'll see how things go.

New chapter should be up today, though not sure if it will go up in a half hour or in a six hours. Kind of depends on how long formatting on the forum takes. In any case, hope you enjoy and again, thanks for your patience and your well wishes!
 
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Kind of depends on how long formatting on the forum takes.
It takes so long to do image intensive chapters. It's required in CK3 at the moment though because most of the fun and interest is what craziness is going on inside the game itself. And there is much craziness...
 
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Chapter 266 - July 1138

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Before Plantagenet - Chapter 266
July 1138 - Pamplona, Kingdom of Navarra

He has my father’s eyes.

Marguerite de Limoges had noticed such things before of her son Alias. She suspected it when he was a babe of a few months, and those suspicions had been confirmed as he grew older.

Those big, round eyes were largely the only aspect she recognized from her father’s side of the family, but they were powerful ones. After all, it was the only reason she didn’t listen to the rumors that her brother Adhemar was the son of Foulques IV - when she looked at him, she was reminded of the late Adhemar de Limoges.

And Alias was alone in that regard - none of her other children carried that legacy of her father with them. Indeed, it seemed to have missed all of her nieces and nephews as well, from Ness’ brood of boys, Mascarose’s Small Fry and Adhemar’s son by the same name..

So it was a sense of pride for her when she looked at her youngest child, as she did in this instance. The pair sat in the solar of a manor on the outskirts of Pamplona - a fortified residence where the boy king of Navarra had called home.

These days it was residence for Prince Alias and Princess Alisce of Sicily, as per the orders of Geoffrey, who wanted his brother to have the appearance of the new Duke of Navarra, even if he had not been raised yet.

Marguerite was meeting with her youngest son first, as she traveled south from Bordeaux en route to see Geoffrey as he besieged Najera to the south, following his success in subduing the entire county of Navarra.

Originally, the queen mother had accompanied her boys on this campaign, along with her daughter Aines. And after Aines’ marriage to Duke Simon of Toulouse, she had returned to Geoffrey, but only temporarily.

A few weeks after Geoffrey had learned of Ælfflæd’s decision to attack Acre without his consent, he had ordered his mother back to Bordeaux, to nominally keep an eye on Bishop Edouard and the council and report back in around a half year with information on how they were handling their duties.

It probably was no coincidence that Ana de Perigord went with her, as Marguerite had learned the younger woman was carrying yet another of her grandchildren.
Thus Marguerite also understood the unstated reason for her return was also to give Geoffrey an update on his bastard - what Ana had delivered and the health of the babe.

It had been a boy, much to the discontent of Bishop Edouard, who said the birth could be a complication. There was an unstated fear over the venom between king and queen, and whether a bastard boy born of the king’s primary lover could be used against the current royal children.



Marguerite believed such fears overstated - despite his vitriol toward the queen, deserved in her opinion, Geoffrey had no interest in disinheriting his children. Far from it - he seemed to view them as even more valuable, hoping to guarantee they helped hold England, with or without Ælfflæd’s help.

But she knew her son Alias, who despised the Perigords, would never agree. So she endeavored to keep the subject away from that, focusing on her youngest son’s own personal affairs.

“How do things go with your wife?” Marguerite asked. “She seems dutiful. Eager to please.”

“To the point of desperation,” Alias said. “I cannot fault her devotion.”

“But you can fault her in other ways?” Marguerite asked.

Alias blushed and took a long sip from the cup before him. He did eventually reply: “Forgive me, mother. I speak rudely of my wife. I should not.”

“That has not stopped a great many men,” Marguerite replied, trying to ease his conscience.

“But I am not like a great many men,” Alias said.

His face had reddened further, and Marguerite feared she had drawn the ire of her youngest. She did not see Alias angry very often. Disappointed, saddened, at times, especially lamenting his lack of a role in the previous years, but rarely angry.

“I did not mean any offence,” Marguerite insisted. “I did not wish for you to guilt yourself over something others do with impunity. You have heard your brother of late.”

“I can do nothing but hear my brother,” Alias said. “Even when he is in Najera.”

“And what is the meaning of that?” Marguerite asked.

“Oh it is nothing,” Alias said. “I do, as you say, as others do. Complain of one’s brother, despite his great generosity to me.”

“What have you to complain of?” Marguerite asked.

“I would prefer not to speak of it,” Alias said. “Either you will think ill of me, or it shall find its way back to him. Neither is something I wish to happen.”

“If you wish a secret,” Marguerite said. “Then short of plotting to harm your siblings or their children, I will not share it.”

Alias leaned back in his chair and sighed. But eventually he did fix his gaze upon his mother once more. “It is more just… the way he speaks. He causes harm to others, unintentionally to be sure. But it is still harm. It bothers me.”

“Has he done so to you?” Marguerite asked.

“When I see him, the conversation invariably turns back to my relations with my wife, and if she is with child yet,” Alias said. “He does so because he doubts my ability to sire a child with her. But I have my own doubts. I need not have him add his voice to them.”

Marguerite sighed. “I understand. Your brother just fears he made a bad marriage for you, and hopes she finds a child to ease his conscience.”

Alias laughed. “Oh mother, no. That is most certainly not it.”

The prince’s response took Marguerite aback. The certainty at which he said, and the almost derision…

She crossed her arms: “Then what is it?”

“Forget it,” Alias said as he waved her off. “I should not have said anything.”

It bothered her to see her youngest’s furrowed brow and red cheeks, as he was clearly embarrassed by something. It reminded her of his childhood, when he was caught sneaking into the larder for meat pies. Usually she felt some sympathy for him then, when a guard or angry nurse would pull him forth by his shirt. And she felt the same sympathy for him now.

“I will speak to your brother,” Marguerite promised.

“No, don’t!” Alias exclaimed. He actually stood from his chair as he spoke. “You promised secrecy.”

“I… I did,” Marguerite replied. “But I am certain I can mediate.”

“You cannot,” Alias said. “It is who Geoffrey is. He thinks of himself, his needs and his reputation. It is, I suppose, what kings must do. In any case, he will not change. Instead he may just lash out. And I have heard enough of that of late, directed at the queen, to last a lifetime.”

“You will never incur such a backlash for just this,” Marguerite assured him. “You do not like his tone. His wife betrayed him.”

“She did not betray him,” Alias said. “She took liberty in her position, just as uncle Foulquesson did back in Brittany. Wrong, yes, but hardly a betrayal.”

“You agree with her?” Marguerite snapped. “After what she did to your brother? To the realm?”

“I don’t agree,” Alias said. “As I said, it was wrong. But I understand why she did it. She wishes to prove herself. To show she is not Geoffrey’s puppet.”

“Then she is manipulated by her vassals,” Marguerite said.

“I think she does it for herself more than them,” Alias suggested. “Geoffrey refused to let her go to England while she was with child. He then took her children from her. I remember how she looked on that day - more distraught than even with his affairs. She probably felt less a queen then than any other point since she married Geoffrey - right as she was supposed to be something more.”

“Excuses,” Marguerite said. “She commits the realm of Aquitaine to her actions - demands the lives of Geoffrey’s knights and vassals. You will have to call forth your men here, despite the resentment they may feel.”

“It is not as if I will have many men to actually call upon,” Alias replied. “But regardless, I will provide what he asks of me. My complaints aside, I do not want him or you to think me ungrateful for all of this. I take issue how he says things, but he does not do it maliciously. Most of the time.”

“Blind to the feelings of others,” Marguerite said. “Though not always willfully. He sounds as if he sees things as your father did.”

“Yes,” Alias said. “So they say. I can’t say I know much of that. I don’t even remember father face, let alone how he treated others.”

Marguerite knew she should feel some sorrow over that - she could hear the regret in Alias’ voice. He had been a child of six when the old king had died and had been kept away from him for the most part. That had been at the old Geoffrey’s request, for his ego would not permit his youngest to see him literally fall apart as the leprosy ravaged his body.

But Marguerite had long since stopped feeling anything toward her husband, besides anger when painful memories would resurface. That of the death of their son, his dismissal of her throughout much of his rule, and the corresponding elevation of his murderous sister Agnes.

“Your father was a masterful statesman,” Marguerite said. “He could charm vassals, emissaries, clergymen… yet when it came time for those close to him, he often looked right past them.”

“I’m not sure Geoffrey is the charmer he was then,” Alias said. “But he does frequently look past those he is close to. I swear, I do not think I have ever seen his wife as distraught as she was when I came upon her that morning. As if her heart had been ripped from her chest.”

“Nothing justified her actions,” Marguerite said. “I do not understand why you defend her so.”

“Forget it,” Alias said as he waved her off. “There is no point. I agree, she is wrong. I just understand and have sympathy for her. That is the short of it.”

“But you think Geoffrey deserves some of the blame?” Marguerite demanded.

“If he did not take her children from her, would she have done this?” Alias asked.

“So this is revenge?” Marguerite retorted.

“No, she wishes to prove her worth to herself,” Alias said. “But again, let us just leave this. It is bickering over nothing. It is done. I disagree with her actions. That is all.”

Given her disgust for Ælfflæd, it was difficult to hear Alias’ sympathy, regardless if he agreed the queen was wrong. But Marguerite also could only stomach fighting with her son so much, and agreed to let the matter rest.

“So,” Alias continued. “You were in Bordeaux, but you did not come this way to visit me. What news do you take to Geoffrey?”

“That I believe his council does suffer from problems,” Marguerite said. “And he could do with new leadership on it.”

Alias chuckled. “Easier said than done. I cannot see Geoffrey finding a suitable replacement for any of them. They are either too important, or he lacks a good option. Or they are his toadies so they can enjoy privilege, like the Perigords.”

“I have heard Berard de Perigord stands up to him,” Marguerite said.

“It took Geoffrey being willing to let his wife fall into heathen hands,” Alias said. “Bravery due to desperation is hardly commendable.”

Marguerite said nothing to that. She knew of her youngest son’s dislike of the Perigords, and did not share it. While she did not care for Alberic, Berard had seemed as loyal a friend as could be. And Ana, for all her faults, loved Geoffrey. And she might be the only woman he shared a bed with who did.

“So you think he lacks leadership… I assume when he is not present,” Alias said. “Isn't that a common problem if the king does not take the whole of his court with him?”

“It can depend,” Marguerite said. “Your father had Count Alias, who kept the council focused on the king’s goals, rather than their own individual acts.”

“And Aunt Agnes,” Alias replied. “She did as well.”

“Yes,” Marguerite grunted. “The point is, they had guidance, even when your father was away. This group lacks that. And it causes problems.”

“So who will you recommend to the role?” Alias asked. “If someone capable exists.”

“I believe I could be a great help to him,” Marguerite said.

“You wish to be given true oversight over cousin Edouard, rather than a share of authority,” Alias said.

Marguerite’s stomach twisted. She knew the next part would be controversial. Alias was unlikely to approve. But if she could not bring it up to her youngest, then how could she do so with Geoffrey?

“I want more,” Marguerite said. “Simply expanding my shared regency powers will not change much. I need an official position on the council itself, which commands respect.”

“He will never fire Berard for you,” Alias warned.

“Not Berard,” Marguerite said. “Adhemar.”

Alias’ eyes widened. “That… that will not happen.”

“Adhemar has disappointed him, has he not?” Marguerite asked. “His failure to hear of Ælfflæd’s schemes. His damaged reputation with the Count of Bearn.”

Her brother had gotten into a vicious argument with his former regent, which resulted in the count challenging Adhemar to a duel. Despite initially accepting, Adhemar had backed out before returning to Normandy, claiming Geoffrey had not approved the duel.

Technically it was true - Geoffrey had not. But it was because Geoffrey had not been asked, and once that had become known, Adhemar’s reputation as a coward had again come to the fore. And it did little for Geoffrey to have a chancellor who was so poorly thought of among the realm’s lords.



“He is still the Duke of Gascony, mother,” Alias said. “One of the realm’s most powerful lords. And your younger brother. This will not be seen in a good light… I think you should reconsider.”

“Geoffrey needs better guidance than he has received,” Marguerite insisted. “Such things are often provided by a wife. But since his has failed him… I must do my part. There are so few left who can.”

“Geoffrey is a man grown,” Alias argued. “He does not need anyone to hold his hand anymore.”

“Did you not hear what I said of your father?” Marguerite asked. “He had need of good councilors throughout his life. Geoffrey does as well. Especially since he lacks the… political savvy of his father.”

“He will have to find them,” Alias said. “You may provide recommendations, but I doubt he will accept you among them.”

“He accepted your aunt,” Marguerite said.

“I was a child when father passed but… it seems as though she was already in such a position,” Alias said. “It was continuing what had worked. This… this would be bold. And I think too bold.”

“He needs someone,” Marguerite said. “His anger… his words, they are of a man betrayed. He has lost trust in those around him. I must do something.”

Alias sighed. “There’s nothing to be done mother. Geoffrey is upset, but it is something he must see through himself. He wished for more. Now he has more. More land. More kingdoms. More responsibility. More problems. It is the way of things.”

All of that was true, but Marguerite could not shake that her late husband had done the same and he was not deprived of valuable subordinates. Someone was needed, and Alias was just too young and headstrong to see it.

“I will put the matter to your brother,” Marguerite said. “And we shall see what he says.”

“I cannot stop you, mother,” Alias admitted. “I just warn you… it will not go well.”

What else could she say to that? If Marguerite was convinced her son was wrong, her stomach would not have twisted during their conversation.

The pair were then interrupted by a man coming into the solar and after a quick bow before prince and queen-mother, whispered something into Alias’ ear. The prince rolled his eyes and shook his head before standing and frowning at Marguerite.

“Forgive me mother,” Alias said. “But I must attend to some business.”

“What has happened?” she asked.

“Raiders,” Alias said. “Navarrans, attacking the farms beyond the wall. We are in no danger here, but if we do not move quickly those outside could fall prey to them.”

Marguerite’s heart skipped a beat. “You are to attack them, personally?”

Alias shook his head. “I watch from one of the towers. By the time I dressed and readied for battle, they could have done damage. We have sentries and knights at the ready. They will defend. But I have a duty to observe. As Geoffrey would say - such things are expected. If you like, I can send Alisce to again keep you company.”

“No, that is quite alright,” Marguerite replied. “I could use some time alone with my thoughts.”

Alias nodded and gave her a kiss on the cheek before he and the man made their way from the chamber. Her heart still raced as the thought of her youngest rushing off to battle was difficult to bear, even if she knew he had already. And would in the future.

She still worried about him. About all her children, even Aines, somewhat. And it did her heart no favors knowing they were in Iberia, where her beloved son Foulques sustained the injuries that had eventually taken his life.

The curse of Iberia was something she believed in - it had ruined all the Capetians who had ventured south of the Pyrenees since the days of Philippe I. His brother Hughes had also lost his kingdom, while Hughes’ son Henri had died young, and Henri’s son, Leonard, had lost the crown. And now, despite helping Christians against the heathens, Philippe’s son Alphonse, was believed to be severely ill after coming to Iberia, with his eldest daughter held prisoner by the Duke of Provence.



To say nothing of her own family. Foulques had died of wounds sustained here, her husband had eventually succumb to Leprosy, which could have been a punishment of some sorts. Now her son Geoffrey had found himself in a Holy War caused by an ungrateful wife… who knew what was next?

All of her children were a concern. But she was especially worried for her surviving boys.

And a voice soon echoed that concern.

“The poor boy. He is troubled.”

Marguerite closed her eyes as she heard the voice. Perhaps she should have been frightened. But after hearing and seeing the specter of Agnes d’Anjou many times over the past year, she did not need to see her to know she was there.

“And why is that?” Marguerite wondered, not turning around.

“I am uncertain,” Agnes admitted as she walked into her view and sat down across from her. “I cannot read minds after all. But is clear enough from the way Alias moves. And the way he speaks.”

“He doesn’t think his brother respects him,” Marguerite surmised.

“I agree with him,” Agnes said.

“He is wrong,” Marguerite said. “Geoffrey cares deeply for him.”

“He may care for him, but does he respect him?” Agnes asked. “They are two different questions.”

Now Marguerite turned her glare to Agnes. “You have come to insult my sons and drive conflict between them?”

Agnes laughed. “You vastly overestimate my abilities. I assure you, there is little I can do to bother them. I just speak to what I see. To you.”

“And just why are you here to see me?” Marguerite demanded.

“Ask yourself,” Agnes replied. “It is not as if I have much control over it.”

“I can assure you that I would not summon you, if I could help it,” Marguerite said. “I can hardly think of anyone but your father who I would want to see less.”

“And yet… here I am,” Agnes replied. “A curious thing, that.”

Marguerite rolled her eyes. “Have you anything to say besides these pointless questions?”

“Nothing except that I agree with young Alias,” Agnes replied. “You take a needless risk with attempting to oust your brother. It would be scandalous in so many ways. Geoffrey will not entertain it.”

“He is frustrated with his council,” Marguerite argued. “My elevation would solve the lack of leadership.”

“And possibly bring a host of other problems,” Agnes replied. “To say little of whether Geoffrey actually will value your opinion enough to make you chancellor.”
Marguerite grew wide-eyed. “But he would value yours.”

“I was never chancellor,” Agnes reminded her.

“But you were practically everything else,” Marguerite said.

“With your blessing,” Agnes said. “I was to save your son, remember? And I did.”

“And now he needs aid again,” Marguerite replied. “And who is left to give it to him?”

“He has been king for over a decade,” Agnes said. “Longer than his father, I might add.”

“His father was still a more experienced ruler,” Marguerite said. “And also required aid.”

“Aid, yes,” Agnes said. “But you can still provide aid in other means. Why do you go down this road?”

“I have offered aid before,” Marguerite said. “Even when I was regent, he only listened a little. Never the same as it was with you.”

“You are not me,” Agnes said. “And I am not you. It is foolish to compare.”

“I am his mother!” Marguerite snapped. “How can I not?”

Agnes fell silent for a moment though her gaze never lifted from the queen mother.

“Let us examine how this will play out,” Agnes suggested. “You offer your services as chancellor. Geoffrey refuses. Now what? You can back down, which will end your dream, and prove you lack the will necessary for the position. Or you can fight, which you will have to do. At which point, Geoffrey will grow angry you challenge him, especially after the actions of his wife.”

“Your fault, I might add,” Marguerite said. “She learned it from you.”

“I would never have told her to do as she does,” Agnes said. “But it is neither here nor there. She has done it, and Geoffrey will be resistant toward any woman, sensitive toward maintaining societal order. He will not want to appear controlled by women, so he will never give you a prestigious position, whether or not you are qualified.”

Marguerite was not surprised Agnes made sense. If she couldn’t reason things out, she’d never have been such a trusted person for three powerful lords.

But Marguerite could also not rule out that Agnes was protective of her own legacy - one which had her as one of Christendom’s most powerful and successful women. Why wouldn’t she aim to undermine her old rival, as she potentially ascended to an even more prestigious position than the late d’Anjou woman had ever managed?

“You just seek to limit me,” Marguerite said. “To keep me from helping my son because you’re worried I might surpass you.”

Agnes laughed. “Such things are concerns for the living. I just look to aid you.”

“You, aid me?” Marguerite asked. “That is laughable.”

“Laughable?” Agnes retorted. “I have aided you countless times over the past two decades.”

“Out of guilt perhaps,” Marguerite said. “Or self-interest.”

“Does it matter why?” Agnes asked. “You received my aid, as you do now.”

“I don’t want your aid,” Marguerite insisted. “I tolerated it for Geoffrey’s sake. But you can’t help him now. Only I can.”

“I don’t doubt you mean well by this,” Agnes said. “Just know this will not end the way you want it to.”

“How can you know that?” Marguerite demanded.

“I know your son,” Agnes said. “You know him too. Why you do this, I don’t know. But… I cannot stop you. Only advise against it, as I did so frequently with your son.”

Marguerite narrowed her gaze. “I am not a child in need of hand holding. I am an old woman, one who knows her children. Just because I permitted you to contribute to my son’s reign before does not mean I permit you to hound me now. Do you understand?”

“If that is what you wish,” Agnes said as she stood. “But don’t say I didn’t warn you.”

….

Marguerite continued on her journey the next day, saying goodbye to Alias for now but expecting to see him again soon enough.

He was moderately concerned about her trip, due to the raiders, and dispatched a few extra knights for protection. But despite his fears, the ride south to Najera was uneventful and Marguerite arrived three days later in good order.

At the edge of siege camp, Marguerite was greeted by her grandson, Prince Guilhem, his friend Savarics de Perigord, as well as her nephew, Rogier, who informed her Geoffrey was away touring the siege works around the town with Berard and the Dane Knud. That she did not have to see that frightful brute of a Dane, who she never liked, was a relief.

Rogier offered to go find his king, taking Savarics, while Guilhem was left to entertain his grandmother, much to Marguerite’s delight.

Having turned 10 a few months before, Guilhem was blossoming before her eyes. He was not her first grandson of course, but he was the one she had the most pride in, having watched much of his growth thus far. And she liked what she saw.



Willful and confident, she believed he was developing the strength he would one day need to rule. And despite the fact he reminded her a bit of his maternal grandfather, the late King Thoræd, she had never heard a negative thing said of his looks.

Then again, the late English king’s biggest problem was his build - short and rather portly. But Guilhem was already his mother’s height, and she was about as tall as her father had been. And he was not thick built yet - with a lanky frame that reminded Marguerite of Geoffrey when he was the same age. She suspected, like his father, he would fill out as he matured.

Guilhem aimed to look the part of a future warrior king here as well, dressed in mail, though his hood was down and his helmet was off, showing off his shaggy, unkempt brown hair.

The old king Geoffrey would be aghast by such a sight, especially as he hosted someone of importance, but Marguerite could not bring herself to be angry with her grandson. Instead, she playfully ran her hand through his messy hair after they reached the privacy of the command tent, causing the boy to blush.

“Grandmother,” he said. “Is that necessary?”

“I must take such opportunities when I get them,” she said. “You grow so quickly. Soon you will be a man, and won’t let me anywhere near your hair.”

“You will have my little brother for such things,” Guilhem told her. “How do he and my sister fare?”

“They are well,” Marguerite said. “Margo misses you all, and wishes it could be as it was when you all were in England. Young Geoffrey has heard stories of this campaign, but he babbles more than speaks in actual words yet.”

“I miss how it was in England too,” Guilhem lamented. “Have you heard any news of my mother? I had not heard anything in a while and sometimes I wonder if father tells those here not to speak of her to me.”

Marguerite had heard little besides Ælfflæd had sent the majority of her 4,000 men to the Holy Lands in an attempt to take Acre quickly. The hope, if Acre would fall, the sheik would have no choice but to surrender, regardless of the aid of the Fatimid Caliphate, who had begun to raid the English coast.

“Do not concern yourself with her problems,” Marguerite warned him.

“She’s my mother,” Guilhem said. “Of course I worry.”

“Her actions are unworthy of your worry,” Marguerite said. “To do as she has done… ignoring her place as your father’s wife, his queen, and he, her king… it is a disgrace. I pray you have better luck when it comes time for you to wed.”

Marguerite could see immediately her words had not landed well with her grandson - his furrowed brow and frown gave it away. And her frustration over Ælfflæd’s behavior was overpowered for this moment by her fear over angering one of the few people in life she valued.

“Father thinks ill of her too,” Guilhem grumbled. “But he’s wrong and can only see his perspective. Mother does this for the good of Christendom, as my grandfather and my great-grandfather did. The Stawells are defenders of the cross. Mother follows her family's legacy, as I hope to one day.”

There was something about his earnest idealism which made Marguerite smile. She was too experienced to think this would last - eventually, someone would drive him from such lofty expectations. But it would not be her, at least not today.

“Forgive me,” Marguerite said. “I, too, appear to have not seen all perspectives. You speak well, my young prince. The Stawell family could find no better heir to its legacy, nor could the d’Anjou.”

The frown melted away, and Guilhem’s lips formed a smile as wide as his face. A nod gave just the slightest hint of his joy at the approval, and Marguerite was pleased to have encouraged him so.

“Now then, are you taking care of yourself?” Marguerite asked. “I know boys your age can get into all sorts of trouble.”

“Father keeps close watch,” Guilhem said. “So does Sir Berard, since I am with Savarics much of the time. And there is not much to do anyway. The Navarrans hide behind walls or stay far away from us ever since father whipped them at Pau.”

“That is good,” Marguerite said. “War is an unpleasant thing. Unpredictable.”

“But it is where one finds glory,” Guilhem said. “Father showed that. So many speak of his great victory. It is like my great-grandfather’s victory at Rouen!”

Marguerite felt her eye twitch. Everything the boy had said disgusted her. But she did her best to restrain herself, not wishing another argument.

And he is young, she thought. Young men all think that way. He can learn better in time.

“Well, you must be safe,” Marguerite said. “The girls in court ask of you. I think they hope to catch your eye when you return.”

Guilhem’s cheeks turned a reddish hue. “I am too young for such things. Father even says so.”

“I never said that,” Geoffrey said as he entered the tent with Berard and Knud. “I said at your age I wouldn’t get too attached just yet. You’ll probably have a promised soon enough.”

“But I can have others, can’t I?” Guilhem asked.

Geoffrey marched over and grabbed Guilhem by the arm, yanking him into the corner. He told him something, that Marguerite guessed by his lips and gestures amounted to not saying such things in front of her.

Then, Guilhem, shoulders slumped, moved forward, Geoffrey following behind. The prince said sheepishly: “Forgive me, grandma. I spoke rudely there. It is unbecoming to speak of such things.”

Marguerite could hardly resist a smirk at Guilhem’s apology, especially given who had forced it from him.

“It is quite alright,” she said with a smile. “You are young. You will learn yet.”

He nodded quickly before Geoffrey declared he wished privacy with his mother. Both Berard and Knud bowed before Geoffrey and Marguerite, with Guilhem receiving a kiss on the forehead from his grandmother before he joined his father’s commanders in departing the tent.

“Apologies for that,” Geoffrey said as he handed her a drink. “He needs to learn such things are not discussed in the company of women.”

“Is that the lesson he must learn?” Marguerite asked.

Geoffrey rolled his eyes and sipped his own drink. “Besides that, I trust my son made for a good host while you waited.”

“He is a good boy,” Marguerite said. “Already willful. Traits he will need if he is to both rule here and wrangle the barbaric Saxons and Normans.”

Could be good yes,” Geoffrey said. “But I worry he will not listen to counsel as he grows older.”

“Has he not listened?” Marguerite asked.

“I can see him questioning some of the things told to him,” Geoffrey said. “He still follows, but I can imagine a time when he may not.”

“That is his willfulness,” Marguerite said. “It is not all that different than you when you were young. Or now for that matter.”

“But if he becomes like his mother,” Geoffrey said. “Undertaking foolishness because it sounds good. Or because it feels right.”

“You must be careful in how you speak of her to him,” Marguerite warned. “He cares for her so and cannot tolerate hearing anyone speak ill of her. I saw it myself.”

“He must learn,” Geoffrey replied. “His mother is not beloved here after what she has done.”

Marguerite knew that wasn’t entirely true. Those outside of the know believed Geoffrey and Ælfflæd had planned this action, and hailed them both for their boldness. And even those that did know didn’t all think ill of the queen, as Alias had proved to her.

“She is not beloved to you,” Marguerite said. “Or me. And quite a few others. But the world is not just us. And your son… you do not want to lose your son. Compromise… if only with him.”

“I have hardly been strict,” Geoffrey said. “There is no need to compromise this. If his wife does this to him one day… he will need to understand.”

Marguerite held back a sigh, but she could see there was no getting through to her own willful boy.

“So, do you come to me with news of Ana, or my council?” Geoffrey asked.

“Both,” Marguerite said. “Ana has birthed a healthy boy.”

Geoffrey smiled. “Good. Has she thought of names yet?”

“She wishes to name him Geoffrey,” Marguerite said. “But I told her that might be ill-advised.”

“I agree,” Geoffrey said. “Lest anyone get any ideas about this boy’s place, as I already have a son named Geoffrey. How is he?”

“He is a healthy boy,” Marguerite said. “Was always eager with the nurses so he is a good weight. And he walks well. But he does not speak. Babbles, yet no words yet.”

“Is that a concern?” Geoffrey asked.

“It has been nearly a year and a half since his birth,” Marguerite said. “Guilhem and Margo both were saying some words by then.”

“They had myself and… my wife present,” Geoffrey said. “Perhaps that plays a role.”

“Perhaps,” Marguerite replied. “Is there anything you want done?”

“Have someone see if they can get him speaking,” Geoffrey said. “Whoever is best suited. Perhaps even you. You were always good with language - you speak four?”

Marguerite nodded. She grew up with Occitan, Frankish and Latin, though she had also picked up some Saxon from her former daughter-by-law, Ælfflæd’s sister Ælthelræda. However she rarely spoke that - and never to Ælfflæd, for she feared she would butcher it.

“I will see what I can do,” Marguerite said. “Though… I hope to be of greater use to you than simply getting a young child to speak.”

“My grandmother Beatritz did such things,” Geoffrey said. “Aunt Agnes told me how the old duchess lectured her and my father on proper Occitan.”

“She did not do a good job with your aunt,” Marguerite said.

“No, she did not,” Geoffrey said with a grin forming on his lips. “Agnes would be the first to admit it.”

Once more she was reminded how he held such fond memories of his aunt. Even though she had dispatched Agnes to guide him, she would have hoped their clashes would have left their relationship more embittered. Instead, he seemed to think better of Agnes than he did almost anyone else - his parents included.

She wondered if Agnes had stalked her to see it. But after a quick glance over her shoulder, Marguerite saw nothing.

“Now my council,” Geoffrey said. “What do you have for me there?”

“The group of them are all quite skilled, as you know,” Marguerite said. “Aside from perhaps, the prince-bishop, but he holds his position due to the church more than anything else.”

“Emmanuel has been good to me,” Geoffrey said. “So I think you underestimate him. But go on.”

“Despite their skill, they do not act with a singular focus,” Marguerite explained. “They tend to their own affairs and rarely, if ever, see how one relates to the other. Edouard reads his ledger, checks over taxes, but does not consult with his brother to see how we might increase the men available for your armies, for example.”

“And why is that?” Geoffrey asked. “Are they ignorant to such things?”

“They know they should,” Marguerite said. “But they need a firm hand to guide them. They lack leadership.”

Geoffrey crossed his arms. “So you blame me for this?”

“No,” Marguerite said. “It is the opposite in fact. They are capable enough when you are present to guide them. When you are elsewhere, they struggle to perform their duties because they all think themselves equal to one another. No one stands above the others, as Count Alias and… your aunt… did under your father. They both had experience and the reputation afforded by their close relationship with him to lead.”

“I have had my cousin Edouard as de facto regent,” Geoffrey said. “He should be the one who guides them if I cannot be reached easily. There is no reason he cannot be my Count Alias.”

“But Edouard’s position is not a strong one,” Marguerite replied. “It is through no fault of him or yourself. It is what happens because he serves on a council where his uncle is the chancellor, his half-brother is the marshal, and his superior in the church is the court chaplain. He is supposed lead men who he is to provide deference to normally. It is a difficult thing to reconcile.”

Geoffrey scratched his chin and slowly nodded his head. “So I should give the power to someone else? Emmanuel, or Adhemar?”

Marguerite frowned. “Emmanuel is a good man but lacks the skill necessary for such a role. As for your uncle… he is problematic. True, he is an effective diplomat, but he also had a reputation as a craven lord who plots in the shadows. His actions against the Count of Bearn did not help.”

“That was not helpful,” Geoffrey admitted.

“I worry not one can do what is necessary to properly guide your council in your absence,” Marguerite said. “That is why I think another candidate is necessary. Someone with age. Experience.”

Geoffrey’s brow rose. “You clearly do not mean Berard since he lacks experience. My uncle Foulquesson? He wishes for a place on the council. But I don’t think having to listen to his blustering worth it.”

“It would be unwise anyway,” Marguerite said. “Given he has given Guillaumette to the rebellious Count of Gevaudan.”

Foulquesson’s youngest daughter had been married to the leader of the Toulousian revolt against Duke Simon, much to anger of both Simon and his father, Duke Guilhem of Poitou. The Duke of Brittany claimed not to care - his daughter’s honor was at stake, for Guillaumette’s bastard child was sired by the Count of Gevaudan. After the death of the countess, Foulquesson wasted little time having his daughter save face by marrying the father of her bastard, with the son acknowledged, but not legitimized.

Geoffrey wasn’t consulted on that marriage either, which the king was annoyed by, given his soreness over the queen’s actions. But in this case, it at least benefited Geoffrey - it once again put a cleave through any potential lasting friendship between Brittany, Toulouse and Poitou.





“No,” Marguerite said. “Foulquesson is not a good choice for anything except marshal duty… and it probably is not worth displacing the Duke of Poitou to do it.”

“Then who?” Geoffrey asked. “You?”

Marguerite smiled. “Yes. That is exactly who.”

Geoffrey learned back in his chair, smirk forming on his lips. “You have come for your regency powers back.”

“Even as regent I found as time went on I was being listened to less and less by Edouard,” Marguerite said. “No, I was thinking something grander. A leadership role on your council.”

“I am not replacing Berard for you,” Geoffrey warned.

“Not Berard,” Marguerite said. “Your uncle Adhemar.”

Geoffrey spit his drink out in surprise, before giving his mother a wide-eyed glare. “You want me to do what?!”

“He has become a liability,” Marguerite insisted. “It pains me to say such things of my younger brother, but his craven nature… and his failure in monitoring your queen has weakened you. It cannot be allowed to stand.”

“You are serious,” Geoffrey replied. “I do not know what has come over you, mother, but I think you should retire to your bed for the evening. The wine is hitting you hard.”

Marguerite narrowed her gaze. “Mind your words. I remain your mother, Geoffrey.”

Geoffrey crossed his arms and shook his head. “What else am I to say such a thing? Replace my uncle, one of the realm’s most powerful lords, with his older sister, my mother? As my chancellor, no less? My vassals would be livid, replacing an experienced powerful lord with an old, inexperienced woman.”

“Inexperienced?” Marguerite replied. “Was I not a duchess? Or a queen?”

“Aunt Agnes held far more responsibility than you did,” Geoffrey said. “I won’t have her here to watch you, and make certain you don’t get me into another situation like Rome.”

Of all the things he could have said, that might have been the worst. A reminder of the old king’s reliance on his sister over her, in all manner of things. And it was a reminder that Marguerite herself had ceded that ground in the end, so desperate she was to protect her son.

And that perhaps it was with good reason, for her past actions left a bitter taste in her son’s mouth as it had his father’s.

But there was no one left who she could trust to guide Geoffrey properly - Adhemar had proven unreliable and his council members clearly were not up to the task. She had to guide him now. As much as she hoped he could manage on his own, the stories of what had transpired when he learned of his wife’s actions suggested otherwise.

“Your father likely chose Agnes for reasons other than just her experience in handling a duchy’s affairs,” Marguerite said. “But I did gain more authority as he grew frail. And you entrusted me with regency powers when Agnes was gone.”

“Split with Edouard and never with an intent to expand that to a council position,” Geoffrey said. “Such things are not done.”

“Mothers have and will continue to rule in their sons’ steads,” Marguerite said. “Especially when their wives are unreliable.”

“That time has come and passed,” Geoffrey said. “If I were to replace Adhemar, I would go to my cousin Centolh. He has shown potential in such a role.”

“He is younger than you!” Marguerite exclaimed. “He is in no position to help guide the council in your absence!”

“And neither are you,” Geoffrey said. “You think the Duke of Poitou will listen to you because you are my mother? He barely listens to me!”

“He does not intimidate me,” Marguerite swore. “I remember when he was a babe at my sister’s breast.”

She was actually exaggerating. She had seen him on occasion when Guilhem was a child, but at that point in time, with Ness basically acting as Duke Foulques IV’s wife, Marguerite rarely saw her sister or nephews. She had visited once or twice, but Marguerite had angrily told her to go, so furious was she that Ness had “willingly” birthed the son of their father’s killer.

Still, the point remained in her eyes. She knew all of these council members when they were basically nothing, with the only exception Prince-Bishop Emmanuel, who had ascended not long after the old king Geoffrey had in Anjou. They were supposed to pay deference to the crown, and the crown’s mother was an extension of that, at least in her eyes.

“But is he intimidated by you?” Geoffrey scoffed. “No. None of them are. Even when you were regent they worked around you. Tolerated you, but they each handled their own affairs as they saw fit. It was enough then, I don't know about now. Your solution is nothing but more trouble - I would have to deal with replacing a powerful vassal with my mother - something surely to annoy the whole of the realm.”

Marguerite’s heart skipped a beat. Geoffrey seemed to be confirming her worst fear - that she never truly held any authority, even under him. That it was more a courtesy than anything else. She suspected he was overstating things to make a point - she clearly did have some power before - but her niggling doubts grew louder.

“I can be of use,” she pleaded. “Let me be of use.”

“You wish to be of use?” Geoffrey asked. “Perhaps you should go to Toulouse and make certain Aines does not plot against me. Though I wonder about your judgment if you truly thought this was an idea that would help me.”

And there it was. The words that cut to her core, just as Alias had warned her of. It was not calculated, just a ramble of thoughts as Geoffrey resisted the idea. But it hurt all the same, as even if it was exasperation more than maliciousness, the meaning did not change.

Marguerite resisted tears as she looked at her son. She struggled to find the words to agree, so disappointed that he no longer had true use for her. Even as he needed aid, he would not turn to her. His own mother. The person who loved him the most. Who would do anything for him.

And perhaps he saw that hurt, for she noticed his expression change to one of concern.

“I… perhaps not Toulouse,” Geoffrey stammered. “But just return to Bordeaux. I think I have asked too much of you, at your age. Between keeping track of so much, and the travel… it has exhausted you. Strained you too much.”

Somehow, his attempts to justify this hurt even more.

Marguerite closed her eyes as she resisted the emotion welling up in her. Eventually, she did manage to look him square, successfully holding back her tears as she did so. And at that moment, she was struck by an old observation, that never seemed truer.

“You have your father’s eyes,” she told him.



…..

Marguerite departed Geoffrey’s siege camp the next morning, despite him offering her the opportunity to remain as long as she liked.

As much as she would not have minded remaining near her grandson, Marguerite could not stomach remaining in a siege camp longer than she had to. And it did not exactly make things comfortable with the way Geoffrey had dismissed her -just as Agnes had warned her.

So as she sat the next evening in an inn along the road north, she was hardly surprised to see the specter of her old rival appear across from her as she sat at a table, sipping on wine.

“Here to gloat?” Marguerite asked.

“Why would I do that?” Agnes asked her.

“You were right,” Marguerite said. “And I would enjoy getting one over on someone I despise.”

“Believe it or not,” Agnes said as she sat down. “I have never hated you. Alias hated you. Geoffrey resented you. Ness was envious of you. But me? No, I sympathized with you.”

“Pitied is more like it,” Marguerite replied.

“That’s fair,” Agnes said.

It was the smallest of victories, and it allowed Marguerite the briefest of smiles. It was gone quickly though, as she sipped on her drink, the warmth of the alcohol struggling to overtake the coldness she felt.

“Have you come to collect me?” she asked Agnes, without turning her gaze toward her. “My usefulness at an end, if it ever existed to begin with. If I were to die now, would anyone notice?

“No,” Agnes said. “I would not do such a thing, if I could at all help it. I would think it needlessly cruel.”

“It is the hell I deserve,” Marguerite replied.

“What is it that any of us truly deserve?” Agnes asked. “There are wicked who lead blessed lives, good people who suffer through most of their days.”

It was, in some ways, demoralizing. Marguerite knew she was not the best of Christians, but she did like to think there was some divine reward or punishment. It consoled her, somewhat, with the death of her son Foulques, that perhaps God had brought him to heaven as a reward for his goodness among a family of wicked persons. And to a degree, it brought a perverse pleasure that perhaps her mother Aines had suffered as the result of the murder of her husband, Marguerite’s father.

It just compounded the feelings of hopelessness Marguerite felt sucked further into - a feeling she thought she might have put behind her when she resolved to convince Geoffrey to make her chancellor. She had found purpose. Now? She felt an old woman waiting to die.

“I just wished to help him,” Marguerite said. “All his life, others have helped him. For once, I thought, perhaps I could. I know how to speak with diplomats, emissaries, lords and kings. I know how the council works. I… I…”

“All of that is true,” Agnes said. “But again, we do not always get what we deserve.”

“Perhaps you are right,” Marguerite said. “I gave him life, but he hardly gives me the reverence he gives you. Nor a position on the council.”

“He looked at me differently,” Agnes said. “But there can be no replacing you. As you say, you gave him life. Without you, he would not be.”

“Will he care when it is my time?” Marguerite wondered. “Not as he did you. He was heartbroken when you passed. More upset than he was for his father. And certainly more than he will be for me.”

“You speak with such certainties,” Agnes said. “I doubt even Geoffrey knows how he will react when the time comes.”

“I suppose we shall learn soon enough,” Marguerite replied. “I cannot imagine I have much time left.”

Agnes’ brow rose. “Ah, so that was it.”

“What was it?” Marguerite asked.

“You think your time grows short,” Agnes said. “So you wished to help your son. Before the end.”

“I thought he would have many to aid him,” Marguerite lamented. “Count Alias. Count Herve. Yourself. Adhemar. Now he has just Adhemar, and he is more a liability than I expected. How can I stand by and watch him struggle so?”

“He doesn’t struggle,” Agnes said. “He has setbacks, some of which are his doing. Some of which is beyond his control. It is through them that he will learn about himself, and those around them. And you must trust that at this point, at his age, he can take what he has learned from you, myself, his father and others, and handle what is to come before him.”

“And if he can’t?” Marguerite asked.

She heard no response. When she looked over, she saw Agnes was gone.

Of course you leave now, she thought.

But she also knew the answer to the question. Regardless of if he had taken his father’s work and expanded on it, or showed his own ambition and skill in getting here, if Geoffrey could not handle what was to come, he would suffer. And his family would with him - his children, his brother.

I can’t help him. I can’t help any of them.

Part of Marguerite had long believed she had never helped Geoffrey. But she also knew that was untrue - even if she had stepped back for Agnes to guide him, she never was completely removed. She was always present to step in, if required. To be the last option, as she was in Rome, when her actions had saved Geoffrey from excommunication.

Who would be there for him now? Who would sacrifice themselves for him if required? Or Alias, for that matter, as he stood ready to ascend to a position of greater prominence. And if they didn’t exist for them, what would there be for her grandchildren, born and unborn?

For years, Marguerite had struggled to find the will to live, using her children as her fire to drive her forward through the misery of her existence. Now, that fire remained, but the fevers and chills she frequently in the evenings, the blisters that itched and burned under her dress, the fatigue and weakness she felt called into question whether that would be enough much longer.

She had set aside any hopes at happiness for her children. She had ignored her pride. She had given herself to those she despised, and refused to surrender her life, so she could protect theirs.

And now she was left to fear that it would be all for naught.

 
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TheButterflyComposer

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What she needs to do...is go retire and open a vinery estate in the south of aquatint and relax. Die in peace. She's a bitch, but she's done her bit and to do anything more would be needless cruel. Unless the game throws her something horrible (or pleasent), I would be satisfied if she basically eased out of the narrative here and maybe came back in on her deathbed.

Is there more for her character to say? Perhaps, but as you say, at this point it would be at the expense of G2 and the new cast.
 
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JabberJock14

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It takes so long to do image intensive chapters. It's required in CK3 at the moment though because most of the fun and interest is what craziness is going on inside the game itself. And there is much craziness...
Really? I have seen really good reviews of CK3, and it seems like what CK2 was at the end, with the potential to be so much more. I'm intrigued, though still unable to get it.

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What she needs to do...is go retire and open a vinery estate in the south of aquatint and relax. Die in peace. She's a bitch, but she's done her bit and to do anything more would be needless cruel. Unless the game throws her something horrible (or pleasent), I would be satisfied if she basically eased out of the narrative here and maybe came back in on her deathbed.

Is there more for her character to say? Perhaps, but as you say, at this point it would be at the expense of G2 and the new cast.
I don't disagree! It was basically my take when I got this event. It came out of left field, though Marguerite's really high diplo doesn't make it the most outlandish request I've seen... but since I was fighting two wars, she was old and Adhemar has a better diplo, there was no way I could accept it.

For strict narrative purposes? Her limitations are clear here - part of the reason I used Agnes here, despite my wife's distaste for my use of ghosts, is because Marguerite simply has no one she can really interact with at this point. She is a relic of the last generation, and her only real relationships are with her immediate family. And in that, her youngest son humors her out of loyalty and Geoffrey tolerates her more than respects her. And Beatritz has a whole bunch of issues there too, to say nothing of Aines. So... she's very much alone. Agnes can engage her as an equal, with some knowledge of what came before... but Marguerite's essentially confined to relationships with ghosts at this point.

It is really quite sad. And yet not unexpected, given her life.
 
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Midnite Duke

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Marguerite is extremely deluded if she thinks that Geoff will replace a more skilled, powerful vassal with her on the council. As a smotherer, she is probably better loved by grandchildren (can go home) than children. While I understand and feel sorry for Marguerite, she is someone that short visits are the best visits. Foulquesson is someone, who would be wonderful to watch from a safe distance upstream, but a major pain to interact with. Geoff equates Elf's war to his mother's affair with Meathead Karling. One was cold, calculated vengeance while the other is a desperate act of a desperate woman. Everyone be safe and happy.
 

Midnite Duke

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What is up with France, incapable king, disease widespread? Do you have any ideas at what ages that Elf was imprisoned in Tunis? She just wants someone to turn Tunis, into Carthage after the Romans, to the 10th degree.
 

TheButterflyComposer

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Really? I have seen really good reviews of CK3, and it seems like what CK2 was at the end, with the potential to be so much more. I'm intrigued, though still unable to get it.

Welll....*cough cough* I happen to know an AAR about a CK2 player's experience with the CK3 tutorial...I hear that many have used it as an opouritny to talk about their ck3 experiences/gripes/pleasures...*cough cough*

Also there's lots of poetry about Hell and the torturous life of Ged Ned, petty King of Meath.
 
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