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    Real Strategy Requires Cunning

TheButterflyComposer

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That was close. And the red bird staying overhead isn't a wonderful omen, since it points towards destruction only. Useful to be sure, but deadly too.

Always impressed by how you manage to make battles seem important. They rarely are in ck2, unless you've messed up or are in a super hard defensive fight for life. Aquitaine has neither issue. It can lose the whole army and still recover promptly enough to win both wars, as ridiculous as that sounds in actual medieval history (though not classical of course, the Romans won the punic wars partially through simply being able to raise army after army as soon as one got slaughtered).
 
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Midnite Duke

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Finally! Someone from Franconia comes to Iberia and leaves relatively unscathed. I am was expecting a more high ranking death than Carles. Geoff? Alias? Rogier? Knud? Is the relations between Geoff and Aquitaine lords so bad that raising vassal levies are worrying. Thank you for updating, and I hope that you and your family are healthy and happy.
 

Specialist290

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A hard-fought battle, and a well-deserved victory. Geoffrey and his men certainly deserve a bit of celebration and some R&R, before the drums of war call them forth again.

Alias's reaction to Carles's death does make me wonder if they were a little more than lord and knight, even if perhaps only in Alias's own mind. Certainly it wasn't unusual in these times for men of war to share deep emotional bonds, but knowing Alias's own preferences, it does make one think...

And, of course, Gunzelin was an unexpected breath of fresh air (metaphorically speaking ;) ). You do have a way of both giving life to those 0-diplo uncouth oafs, as well as to injecting a little levity into what might otherwise be a very grave moment.
 
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Gripping gripping stuff.

It's interesting though, how in two spheres we see here Geoffrey over-reaching himself. Or perhaps, more accurately, how over-reaching in one sphere leads to the same in the other.

Geoffrey is greedy - he wants more. Having a desire - and being rather spoiled by life - he seeks to take it. However he knows that there is a time limit to his ambition, effectively set on up by his wife (whom I would not be surprised if he blames, later). So he falls for the trap on the battlefield - a battle he probably didn't actually need to fight, given the emissaries sent beforehand. He remains a skilled enough soldier, and surrounded by skilled enough soldiers, that he managed to still earn the victory, despite the slaughter. But he is still gripped by his greed, and I honestly was not sure he was going to push matters right there in conversation with Gunzelin. He does not like being told no. But - in this matter at least - he is constrained. But only by revealing to Gunzelin just how venal he is.

Of course, Geoffrey is intelligent enough to - on some level - know he risked Alias life for nothing and killed all those men, for nothing. I think that bleeds out in the post-battle council, where he "saves" Alias again by shouldering a large portion of the responsibility himself. But I think the knowledge it was a wasted battle also made him push with Gunzelin, even if it was poorly done.

And all because he has to get back to England. As I say, I would not be at all suprised if he doesn't blame the Queen for this.
 
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TheButterflyComposer

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That's true. I suspect he's going to contue to look lustily at Iberia as much as any woman until fate really tears his crotch off. Which, given how powerful Aquitaine is, and how holy wars work...might not be until he reaches the Atlantic.
 
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that red bird... I wonder... if he is going to be seen in the future...
 
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Geoffrey almost lost everything in those moments of taking a rash action. It is good for him his army was able to absorb his mistake and take the day. I like the way the war ended with the Duke using the heathen threat to England as a strong bargaining tool to basically abandon his ally and still look like something of the good guy. He also prevent Geoffrey from taking more than he should based on what Rome gave him.
 
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Wait, is Carles the same knight that Agnes had as a lover in her last years?
That was my thought, but forgot to mention it.
 
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The Iberian Curse struck... close to Alias. Perhaps it will strike delayed. But in any case, saying that it didn't affect this war is wrong. Perhaps it was the Iberian Curse which caused Ælfflæd's rash decision, too? The curse can't stay predictable, after all.

Now to do my job as for Gunzelin - he behaves just as one would expect. Blunt, but willing to go through any lengths to prove his worth. Which may be due to his hunchback, fuelling his desire to show the world what he's truly made of. While distancing himself from the successful men of his age, the kings of Aquitaine - which is why he's chaste. Perhaps also due to his mother's influence, who surely hasn't forgotten her encounter with Geoffrey. ;)

As an aside, perhaps this world's Habsburgs won't be known for their chin, but for their backs :p .
 
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JabberJock14

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Excellent job, a very good read... The battledidn't exactly go well, but I wonder if perhaps Berard complains about Alias because he is jealous that he receives land instead of himself, the king's favorite.... As Geoffey already mentioned the losses were regrettable but Aquitane could afford them, whereas Navarre and Transjurania could not... Hopefully Geoffrey's men may be enough to fight off the Moslems, but who knows... The Fatimids have the men and money of Egypt at their disposal...
Thanks for the compliment! It was one of the messiest battles I've fought in a while. I can't attribute it all to not having a commander on that flank - but I do think the German heavy troops likely made a different. I was amazed at how poorly the Angevin light troops did though, which happened in both battles in this war.

Berard and Alias do not like each other. I imagine it started with Alias taking a standoffish attitude to Berard, which got back to him and has escalated from there. But it's one of those fights which either will be hard pressed to win - Geoffrey is not about to get rid of either man short of them plotting against him.

You know, gameplay wise I was hoping the Fatmids actually came to Aquitaine, which would have enabled me to quickly call up the rest of the levy and crush them in a few months. But they were smart enough to avoid Aquitaine and go straight for England, which was an annoyance for me. And problematic for certain characters.

That was close. And the red bird staying overhead isn't a wonderful omen, since it points towards destruction only. Useful to be sure, but deadly too.

Always impressed by how you manage to make battles seem important. They rarely are in ck2, unless you've messed up or are in a super hard defensive fight for life. Aquitaine has neither issue. It can lose the whole army and still recover promptly enough to win both wars, as ridiculous as that sounds in actual medieval history (though not classical of course, the Romans won the punic wars partially through simply being able to raise army after army as soon as one got slaughtered).
It wasn't quite the sacred chickens refusing to eat, but I left it open as to whether it was good or bad. There are ways to interpret everything and Geoffrey certainly has no problem searching for signs.

Battle scenes are really difficult for me because it is really difficult to add any stakes to these while also making them interesting. This battle at least did see a setback - there may be another fight where I suffered worse losses than the enemy in victory, but I don't remember one standing out. Basically Leyre was about as bad a battle one can have without losing it in CK2, especially given it was on flat terrain, and I'm glad I was able to convey that. If they actually had draws, I would argue Leyre was pretty much that - a tactical draw that resulted in a strategic victory.

It's funny you brought up the Roman ability to replace armies, given Geoffrey I's love of the Romans. Rome was pretty unique in it's ability to replace armies thanks to it's massive population to draw from. It was what enabled it to win many of the wars it took part in, the Second Punic War being the most clear example.

Aquitaine has ultimately developed into something similar, though I'd admit it's very much partially due to the weakness of everyone else. If a fully powered HRE came to town, and Aquitaine lost an army, it would not be good times.

Finally! Someone from Franconia comes to Iberia and leaves relatively unscathed. I am was expecting a more high ranking death than Carles. Geoff? Alias? Rogier? Knud? Is the relations between Geoff and Aquitaine lords so bad that raising vassal levies are worrying. Thank you for updating, and I hope that you and your family are healthy and happy.
So far, no one has been affected. But I do like to keep my supernatural events open to some interpretation - so don't quite write off that curse just yet!

Of those you mention I will say the survivors have their fair share of individual things set to come in their lives. Not everything successful or happy, mind you, but they have plenty of big things in their future. And one you may not see it by the time this story ends, one will be not be far off being one of the most powerful people in the world. ;)

It's not that the relationship between Geoffrey and his lords are bad - it's that I don't want them to actually become bad. He had some malluses that had to burn off for raised troops and I didn't want it getting into -20 or worse territory. I figured I'd probably need those troops in the future, and I was right.

Thanks! We're doing OK. Things are slowing down a bit, finally, though the remote learning is always an interesting challenge.

A hard-fought battle, and a well-deserved victory. Geoffrey and his men certainly deserve a bit of celebration and some R&R, before the drums of war call them forth again.

Alias's reaction to Carles's death does make me wonder if they were a little more than lord and knight, even if perhaps only in Alias's own mind. Certainly it wasn't unusual in these times for men of war to share deep emotional bonds, but knowing Alias's own preferences, it does make one think...

And, of course, Gunzelin was an unexpected breath of fresh air (metaphorically speaking ;) ). You do have a way of both giving life to those 0-diplo uncouth oafs, as well as to injecting a little levity into what might otherwise be a very grave moment.
Yeah, no rest for the weary! Geoffrey may want to give them a slight one, but that's not really available with England in a... less than favorable position.

Your reads on things are always very good - I nearly put a mention of Geoffrey thinking the exact same thing. If for no other reason than I would imagine Geoffrey figuring he would do something like that to a woman, so why wouldn't Alias do that to a man?

I will say Carles was Agnes' boy toy earlier in this story, though that doesn't necessarily preclude him from also joining Alias.

Thank you on the compliment over Gunzelin's description. I had a very specific idea I wished to convey with him and I'm glad that came across. Lacking in decorum, yes, but also with a clear distaste for Geoffrey based on the familial history. Which was made worse in the end by Geoffrey being unable to resist a dig any longer.

I also hinted at Gunzelin's own insecurities - his hunchback is actually the reason he doesn't stand for Geoffrey. He aims to hide it by remaining seated cloaked and having the impression of leaning forward. It was one of those things that had a lot going on - even more than other similar scenes.

Gripping gripping stuff.

It's interesting though, how in two spheres we see here Geoffrey over-reaching himself. Or perhaps, more accurately, how over-reaching in one sphere leads to the same in the other.

Geoffrey is greedy - he wants more. Having a desire - and being rather spoiled by life - he seeks to take it. However he knows that there is a time limit to his ambition, effectively set on up by his wife (whom I would not be surprised if he blames, later). So he falls for the trap on the battlefield - a battle he probably didn't actually need to fight, given the emissaries sent beforehand. He remains a skilled enough soldier, and surrounded by skilled enough soldiers, that he managed to still earn the victory, despite the slaughter. But he is still gripped by his greed, and I honestly was not sure he was going to push matters right there in conversation with Gunzelin. He does not like being told no. But - in this matter at least - he is constrained. But only by revealing to Gunzelin just how venal he is.

Of course, Geoffrey is intelligent enough to - on some level - know he risked Alias life for nothing and killed all those men, for nothing. I think that bleeds out in the post-battle council, where he "saves" Alias again by shouldering a large portion of the responsibility himself. But I think the knowledge it was a wasted battle also made him push with Gunzelin, even if it was poorly done.

And all because he has to get back to England. As I say, I would not be at all suprised if he doesn't blame the Queen for this.
Thank you!

As always, top notch analysis! Very nice of noticing the link between one aspect of Geoffrey's issues contributing to the other. As often is the case in life, we can't fully separate things.

I imagined Geoffrey having this feeling of both regret, embarrassment and relief. He stumbled into a similar mistake to he made that cost Herve his life - underestimating his foes and overestimating his own capabilities. So he has regret and embarrassment - because he did something he swore he would not do again. But there is also relief - he didn't lose Alias, which would have carried with it a whole other mess of things, not the least of which was parental disappointment. (Both parents in this case, even if Geoffrey I wouldn't have been present to voice it)

I did take a long, hard look at whether Geoffrey would blame Alias for it or whether he would look more internally. I ultimately decided that to this point, Geoffrey had been more introspective in these moments - Aurilliac and Huelgoat being two examples. It actually will like save Elf some blowback, most likely - though much like his parents, Geoffrey is not above passive aggressively carrying out some lingering hostility. So... you're right in that the queen probably should not expect a happy reunion!

I will say there is a rather major event in Geoffrey's life that plays a role. The event of the next chapter, in fact.

And of course, you're right that his issue carried on to the talks with Gunzelin. Specifically, Geoffrey's ego had been dinged and it was being attacked further with the duke. Logic won out, but Geoffrey did have to get his dig in.

That's true. I suspect he's going to contue to look lustily at Iberia as much as any woman until fate really tears his crotch off. Which, given how powerful Aquitaine is, and how holy wars work...might not be until he reaches the Atlantic.
Holy wars and threat level are pretty much the only reason I didn't make a run at most of Ibera. Navarra was the first step no matter what, however. Once I was in, I had more options to attack pretty much everyone in Iberia.

That said - there was also a lot of other things that came up too. Rome... Rome was a major player in Aquitaine's situation.

Wait, is Carles the same knight that Agnes had as a lover in her last years?
Correct! He was that same knight. Carles was one of those people who pledge service when you're crowned and I never made a whole lot of use of him because I wasn't short on commanders. So I stuck him with Agnes and, since I noticed he was gone from my court/the game by this point, I decided to send him off here.

that red bird... I wonder... if he is going to be seen in the future...
Omens, signs... it may return at some point!

Geoffrey almost lost everything in those moments of taking a rash action. It is good for him his army was able to absorb his mistake and take the day. I like the way the war ended with the Duke using the heathen threat to England as a strong bargaining tool to basically abandon his ally and still look like something of the good guy. He also prevent Geoffrey from taking more than he should based on what Rome gave him.
It wasn't the first time Geoffrey did that, and it probably won't be the last!

I viewed the situation as kind of a mutual destruction situation with Gunzelin. He could have made his own life miserable with his threat if Geoffrey was really hell bent on cutting off his nose to spite his face. But the duke rightly guessed Geoffrey couldn't risk his position, as he had much more to lose, and backed down.

That was my thought, but forgot to mention it.
It was true. Though I leave open to speculation whether Carles indulged a bit with Alias as well as @Specialist290 suggests. We know he doesn't mind the way the Angevins look and isn't opposed to unconventional relationships! ;)

The Iberian Curse struck... close to Alias. Perhaps it will strike delayed. But in any case, saying that it didn't affect this war is wrong. Perhaps it was the Iberian Curse which caused Ælfflæd's rash decision, too? The curse can't stay predictable, after all.

Now to do my job as for Gunzelin - he behaves just as one would expect. Blunt, but willing to go through any lengths to prove his worth. Which may be due to his hunchback, fuelling his desire to show the world what he's truly made of. While distancing himself from the successful men of his age, the kings of Aquitaine - which is why he's chaste. Perhaps also due to his mother's influence, who surely hasn't forgotten her encounter with Geoffrey. ;)

As an aside, perhaps this world's Habsburgs won't be known for their chin, but for their backs :p .
Strike delayed. Hmm... that is a very good prediction! Suffice to say there will be moments that leave some to wonder if it has in fact struck on a bit of a delayed timer. And you're right that some could easily interpret Elf's decision as the forces moving against Geoffrey. That's the problem with supernatural stuff - who knows what's real and what's imagined?

You do a great job with your analysis and this is no exception. The lengths I got into above, with the reason he never stood being due to his shame over being a hunchback. He decided the disrespect there was better than being mocked for his deformity - which may not have been wrong! On the chaste aspect, perhaps that's his insecurity over his deformity playing a role. His mother may have played a role in that too - she was caught having an affair with her uncle, who I think is the Arch Bishop of Savoy. That family has pretty good run on that region, come to think of it...

If Gunzelin becomes someone of note, those Habsburgs may have plenty to pick from. Hunchbacks... and of course, his wife is a dwarf! Funny though the Habsburgs are marrying around in my game. The wife of Alphonse is one of them, though her children are Capetians. I believe they are elsewhere as well... it seems they're good at marrying around in CK2 as well!

To all, fine analysis and feedback as always. It was a hard chapter to write, but it came out well enough. Like many things in this story, the conclusion of one event often means the beginning of another. And while it didn't quite get as grand as I wanted, I would say we'll see a few more things now that Alias has control of Navarra.

The next chapter is mostly ready, though I'm giving it a few tweaks. I was going to try to get it up tonight, but I think I'll just shoot for tomorrow (Thursday). Thanks as always for your patience, commentary and excellent responses. I always look forward to hearing what you all have to say!
 
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Chapter 268 - December 1138

JabberJock14

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  • Crusader Kings II
  • Europa Universalis IV: Mare Nostrum
  • Europa Universalis IV: Res Publica
  • Europa Universalis IV: Wealth of Nations
  • Europa Universalis IV: Conquest of Paradise
  • Europa Universalis IV: Art of War
  • Crusader Kings II: Sword of Islam
  • Crusader Kings II: Sons of Abraham
  • Crusader Kings II: The Republic
  • Crusader Kings II: Rajas of India
  • Crusader Kings II: The Old Gods
  • Crusader Kings II: Legacy of Rome
  • Crusader Kings II: Charlemagne
  • Europa Universalis IV: Dharma
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  • Europa Universalis IV: Mandate of Heaven
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  • Crusader Kings II: Holy Fury
  • Europa Universalis IV: Rights of Man
  • Crusader Kings II: Reapers Due
  • Crusader Kings II: Conclave
  • Europa Universalis IV: Cossacks
  • Crusader Kings II: Horse Lords
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Before Plantagenet - Chapter 268
December 1138 - Bordeaux, Kingdom of Aquitaine



Two lords. Two very different sets of circumstances.

A little over a month ago, Geoffrey stood in the hall of the castle of Pamplona, prideful and joyous over the occasion. He was officially raising his brother Alias as the Duke of Navarra and the lord of the counties within.

It felt a long time coming for Geoffrey, and he suspected Alias as well. After all, Alias had long pestered him to go to war to claim those titles. It had been a half-decade before when the idea had formed thanks to the late Cardinal Arrigo and had been a tease at time for the prince.

Envious and conspiring uncles, tumultuous affairs, the conquering of another kingdom, disobedient wives and vassals, tricks and other machinations had threatened to stop Geoffrey from fulfilling his promise. But he had overcome them, and in doing so fulfilled another promise - one over a decade old, made to his dying father to take care of his brother.

And with Alias receiving Navarra… he had.

He had made his brother a duke, married him to a foreign princess. He had made his youngest sister a duchess, overcoming his own reluctance to do so. And he had made himself king of two realms.

I don’t think you could have any complaints about how this has turned out, father, Geoffrey thought that day as he saw the filled hall, the banners hanging and his brother and sister-by-law approaching him to be officially named duke and duchess of Navarra.



Today, however, another set of oaths were to be arranged. And Geoffrey was not sure what to expect with this new lord.

Henri of Limousin stood before Geoffrey and Bishop Edouard, as the three met in the king’s strategy hall in the palace of Bordeaux. Geoffrey sat on his throne, eyeing the son of the late and troublesome Count Gui, wondering which way this meeting would go.

The red-haired young man was Geoffrey’s junior by a few years, but was now set to become one of his men, as Count Gui had passed a month before, around the same time of Alias’ raising.

Handsome, with an immaculately groomed mustache and goatee, he came dressed in a clean green tunic, with a red cloak draped over his shoulders. Such things were expected when meeting with a king, but after Duke Gunzelin a few months before, Geoffrey could not take it for granted.

And much like that meeting, and not like Alias’ raising, Geoffrey was uncertain of the intentions of the man before him.

Henri had reason to be prideful as an owner of illustrious blood in his veins - his mother, the former countess Catherine, was also a Princess of the Franks - the daughter of the late King Philippe I. It made Henri, like his cousin Knud, a grandson of a former king and nephew to a current one in the ailing Alphonse.



But despite that familial bond with the Dane, Geoffrey suspected there was no love lost between the two men. After all, Knud had murdered Henri’s other grandfather - Count Toumas of Limousin. Knud’s lack of punishment by Geoffrey’s father had been a primary source of discord between the late Count Gui and the Angevins.

Not to mention Gui repeatedly seduced Princess Aines, siring two children with her, and making an attempted pass at the queen, who had rejected him.

And yet Henri was a cousin of the king, as queen-mother Marguerite was a member of the de Limoges house. As non-Angevin lords went, only Adhemar, also of the de Limoges house, and Small Fry of Charolais of the de Semur line were of closer relation to Geoffrey than the count of Limousin.



So it was anyone’s guess how this meeting would play out, leaving Geoffrey to conduct it behind closed doors.

But despite his concerns, Henri had shown no anger on his face when he entered, and greeted Geoffrey with a bow.

“My king,” Henri said. “Thank you for receiving me. I know you have much to deal with these days.”

“This is one of those things,” Geoffrey replied. “My father never liked to depart on things of great import while having things to be done here. And the oaths of a new lord are one of those things.”

“I am happy to hear this has as much importance to you as it does me,” Henri said. “Though I understand why it may be required to keep this small.”

“Your compassion is a fine change from many I have dealt with in your position,” Geoffrey said.

“Given your mother is a cousin of mine,” Henri began, “and her friendship with my grandfather Toumas, it is the least of what I can do.”

“Have you had the chance to see her?” Geoffrey asked.

“I did,” Henri said. “I was happy to - my grandfather Toumas spoke so well of her. I remember him telling me as a boy to disregard the slander some talk of with her. He had seen the goodness in her heart back when they were young and even if the world had hardened her, underneath, she was a good woman.”

Geoffrey nodded, feeling a pang of sadness twist at his stomach.

“While we are on the subject of family, my king,” Henri continued, “I wish to offer my apologies.”

“Apologies?” Geoffrey asked. “For what?”

“My father,” Henri said. “He never did forget the death of his father at the Dane’s hands. But that does not excuse his actions. He was a scoundrel.”

“I’m surprised to hear you say such things,” Geoffrey admitted.

“It is the truth,” Henri said. “The man was terrible to my mother, and I never could trust what his plans were. I suspect they would have harmed my family in the future. And the affair with your sister… it was wrong. So very wrong. I can only hope to make amends to you and your family in time.”

Geoffrey was genuinely surprised to hear such talk. He thought very poorly of the late count, suspecting it was because of Knud’s murder of Count Toumas, but Geoffrey had an expectation that grudge might continue. That the new count was both willing to put it aside and apologize for it, boded well.

“Consider it a fresh start,” Geoffrey said. “Your grandfather Toumas performed many a great service for my family, and you appear to be cut from a similar cloth.”
“Thank you my king,” Henri said. “It warms my heart to hear such things.”

“Now then, to the business of your oaths,” Geoffrey said. “I cannot promise you a time yet for a more grand affair. However, I can offer you a brief ceremony with the members of my council and Prince-Bishop Emmanuel, if you so choose. That can take place tomorrow.”

“I think that suits me just fine,” Henri admitted. “I have never been fond of grandiose shows. There is too much which can go wrong.”

He paused and then grimaced. “No offense to your father of course. I have heard he was the master at such things. I would not dare to dream I could approach his skill in that regard, nor would I try.”

Geoffrey chuckled. “I don’t blame you, for I can tell you it is no easy task. But we shall do the small ceremony tomorrow and explore if a grander event is required."

“Thank you, my king,” Henri said as he bowed once more. “Again, you have my gratitude for your treatment of me, my apologies for my father’s treatment of you, and my prayers for your mother.”

Geoffrey nodded and watched the new count departed. Turning to Edouard he said; “That went better than I could have expected.”

“Agreed,” Edouard said. “Though I have heard Henri truly grew apart from his father in recent years. The old count Gui had suffered through increasing madness, and Henri feared his father might look to disinherit him in favor of his half-brother.”

“My bastard nephew?” Geoffrey asked.

Edouard nodded. “I learned of this from their priest. He did not know whether Henri had proof of such things, but he certainly believed it.”

“Then another reason to say ‘good riddance to Gui,’” Geoffrey said. He paused for a moment. “Forgive me, for speaking ill of the dead.”

Edouard made a quick cross in the air. “You are forgiven. Most kings would not have cared to even ask for such a thing.”

Geoffrey shrugged. “We survived Leyre due to God’s blessing. I do not wish to draw his ire, as I have come close to doing in the past.”

Edouard chuckled. “I won’t look to talk you out of reasons to be more pious and that one is certainly a good one. And if said piousness extends to England, I know Duke Osmund will be glad to hear it.”

The Duke of Kent had come to Pamplona a month before, acting as Queen Ælfflæd’s emissary, having been restored as her chancellor in place of Duke Sigeric of Essex. He was begging for aid then, as the heathens had landed on England’s shores.

But Geoffrey could not possibly move his army to England in an instant. It would take months for them to travel to Brittany and then cross the channel. And as it was, he intended to wait until the spring to make his move. They needed to recover after years of fighting and a difficult battle in Leyre.

“Of course,” Geoffrey grumbled. “Have I not told them I will bring my men as soon as it is feasible?”

“Well,” Edouard began. “Lydford is under siege.”

Geoffrey rolled his eyes. “Of course it is. This is what my wife has wrought.”

“Be that as it may…,” Edouard continued, “we did promise to defend them. And even if we had not, you are King of England after all.”

“And I will provide aid,” Geoffrey said. “When my army is good and ready. Leyre took much out of us. And it is winter. We will aim to arrive by the spring.”

“Osmund fears they cannot hold out that long,” Edouard said.



Geoffrey let loose an exasperated sigh. “He can look to his niece then and not to me. I didn’t attack the heathens. She did. England’s suffering is on her head, not mine.”

“Right as you are, should Lydford fall, and the queen with it, then all would be lost,” Edouard said.

“Tell her to quit Lydford and wait for me to arrive,” Geoffrey said. “Let her hide in Kent, or Mercia.”

“Osmund said she does not wish to flee her keep,” Edouard said. “Given what happened to her father.”

“Then she should know full well the consequences of staying too long,” Geoffrey said. “If she wishes to be obstinate, that is her problem, not mine.”

Geoffrey eyed his cousin, looking to see how far he’d continue this argument. The king was willing to fight as long as he needed to - he might have acquiesced to providing aid for England, but he was through letting his wife dictate how and when his men were deployed. If she wished to risk herself because she did not like his timeline, then he had no problems letting her pay the price.

Of course it was easier with Berard not in his ear. And his friend had not been for a few weeks now, having been forced to return to Perigord alongside his sister Ana to sort out a family matter.

“Have you heard word from Berard and Ana?” Geoffrey asked.

“Yes, a rider arrived earlier and said they are returning from Perigord,” Edouard explained. “Their brother Jaufret is with them.”

Geoffrey’s brow rose. “He is coming here?”

“I gave them leave, given the delicacy of the situation,” Edouard said. “If it displeases you, I can find something for him to do in Angouleme. Or Angers. Somewhere.”

That was met by a shake of the head from Geoffrey. “It’s fine. They prevented bloodshed, I suppose.”

“There is only so much that can be done,” Edouard said. “Jaufret is furious with Alberic. He feels betrayed. And he’s right to. He’s not certain his daughter is his own!”

Geoffrey could only nod. Alberic, Count of Perigord, had been caught in a scandal that rivaled the king’s worst. He had been found to be bedding the wife of his youngest brother, Jaufret, leaving the distraught young man furious and ready to challenge his elder brother to a duel.



Berard and Ana had both ridden to Perigord to stop that from happening, and it appeared they had been successful on that front. But any reconciliation between the oldest and youngest surviving Perigord boys was apparently some ways off.

“Miserable business,” Geoffrey said. “There are some lines which should not be crossed.”

Edouard’s gaze fell from the king, but he did nod.

“Please,” Geoffrey said. “I have done some… poor things. But I will not ever touch my brother’s wife. Even if she didn’t look like a camel.”

“I admit, this is a step beyond,” Edouard said. “But it is not the only point of discord between family that must be dealt with. Uncle Adhemar wishes for your intervention in regards to his son and Small Fry.”

That was the type of affair Geoffrey was more accustomed to dealing with. Marthe, the wife of his younger cousin Adhemar, had been caught with another of his cousins, Count Geoffrey of Charolais. It had left both Adhemars furious, but turning to violence over the matter was difficult due to the men being of close relation - Duke Adhemar was the brother to Mascarose, Small Fry’s mother, thus making him the count’s uncle.

And even Marthe herself was not a nobody. She was the sister of Count Henri, meaning she was a cousin of Geoffrey and granddaughter to a Frankish king. Any death or severe punishment would be a negative outcome for everyone.





“What is there to be done?” Geoffrey asked. “Small Fry was wrong. But my uncle should know better than anyone else - if I come down harshly upon him, I will look like a hypocrite. I have to let it go.”

“That’s why he hopes for a private mediation,” Edouard said. “That something can be done to make amends privately.”

“Unlikely,” Geoffrey said. “What does Small Fry say? Have you heard from him?”

Edouard nodded. “He claims the lady was in need and that the younger Adhemar has not fulfilled his husbandly duties.”

“Something Alias told me before makes me think that is true,” Geoffrey said. “And she seems to have inherited her father’s appetites. I do have much sympathy for the lady. But it does not make it right.”

Edouard smirked. “True enough. Shall I arrange the meeting then?”

“Yes,” Geoffrey said. “But I cannot deal with such things. You can handle it.”

“Me?” Edouard asked, pointing to himself. “I am not you.”

“Exactly,” Geoffrey said. “You are their first cousin, as I am. But you are a man of the cloth - a perfect judge of such matters.”

“And how am I to judge?” Edouard asked.

“You doubt your capabilities?” Geoffrey asked.

“Forgive me, I did not speak clearly enough,” Edouard said. “How do you want me to rule? Our cousin Adhemar is the heir to one of the realm’s most powerful lords, but Small Fry is one of your lords already. They are both family, but Small Fry has the added advantage of being related to you on your father’s side as well, so he may expect further leniency, especially since the nature of the crime is rather… Angevin in nature.”

“Reprimand Small Fry,” Geoffrey said. “Demand repentance of some sort. The same with Lady Marthe. Offer some consolation to Adhemar, both of them. Praise his compassion and patience. And whatever else you feel you can give without running afoul of Small Fry or the church.”

Geoffrey’s experience had some bearing on his advice - he’d heard how his uncle Philippe had been handled after the affair with Sarrazine had been exposed.

“It will be done,” Edouard said.

“Good,” Geoffrey said.

There was a heavy knock and after a few moments, Geoffrey’s physician, the Hungarian Odin made a heavy walk across the hall to the king.

Geoffrey swallowed hard, fearing what was to come. He had dispatched his physician to treat his mother in hopes he could have the same success in alleviating her many recent issues.

But the sullen face worn by the physician did not bode well.

“Your mother’s fever is very high and she is delirious much of the time,” Odin explained. “I have done what I can, but she grows weak.”

Geoffrey’s stomach twisted in knots at just the thought of what was to come. He even struggled to get out the words to ask his question. However, Edouard was of a similar mind.

“Is all hope lost?” Edouard asked. “Can she pull through?”

Odin shook his head. “I summoned the prince-bishop for her. I would go to her now, my king.”

And there it was. The news that Geoffrey dreaded. But it was inevitable.

He had heard his mother Marguerite’s health had begun to decline steadily not long after the battle at Leyre. At first, he didn’t think much of it - after all, his mother had been near death before and survived. Marguerite may have hated life, but she refused to leave it - fighting through a great deal in the past to persist past so many of her peers.

But his older sister Beatritz, who had come south to care for their mother, had implored him and their siblings to come to Bordeaux right around when Alias was raised, for she believed Marguerite’s time was growing short.

On that, Geoffrey had come, and was coming back anyway, since Alias had been seated in Navarra. With the prince establishing himself in his new duchy, he had remained back initially. Aines, meanwhile, claimed she had too much to do in Toulouse with her husband in the field fighting the rebellion against him to depart the duchy at that moment.



But Marguerite’s condition had steadily deteriorated over the past few weeks and Geoffrey had been forced to send urgent messages to Alias and Aines, telling them to come. However, they had yet to arrive.

“How far away are my siblings?” Geoffrey asked Edouard after Odin had left.

“Prince Alias is about two days away,” Edouard told him. “He would have been here already, but was delayed by a storm, which made the roads too muddy to travel. Your aunt, Lady Mascarose, should be here by this evening.”

Geoffrey frowned. “And Aines?”

“Even further,” Edouard said. “The same storm which halted Alias likely affects her travel as well.”

Geoffrey cared less about that. Asking about her was more a courtesy - it seemed the proper Christian thing to do. And he was a proper Christian, after all.

But had he been proper in the past? The king’s eyes fell to the floor as he remembered his last serious conversation with his mother… back in Iberia. The one where he had refused her request to become his chancellor and done so in a manner so cold that she had compared him to his father.

He didn’t even need to ask what she had meant by saying he had “his father’s eyes.” It was clear from her expression. From her tone. And her face had haunted him in recent days as her condition worsened.

“Did I break her?” Geoffrey asked his cousin, unable to raise his gaze to the bishop’s. “Did I destroy the will she had left by refusing her request? I could see how much I… how much turning her down hurt.”

“You had no choice,” Edouard replied. “It would have been another problem for your reputation. For a woman of her age and experience, she should have known that.”

“I know,” Geoffrey replied. “But she wanted to help me. For all I can fault my mother for… I cannot deny she wishes the best for me.”

“Then she had to know why you turned her aside,” Edouard said. “For it would have brought more harm than good.”

Geoffrey sighed, knowing his cousin was right. But he also understood that his mother wasn’t always the most rational of persons. He guessed she did want to help, and the fact she brought up his aunt to him, her old rival, made it clear she thought she deserved it based on that. To have given prestige to Aunt Agnes but not her…

His reasons, good as they might have been, no doubt stung. And Marguerite’s health turning for the worst in recent months may well have had something to do with it.

“I should not wait any longer,” Geoffrey said. “If I am not with her at the end… after I was with Aunt Agnes… she would probably badmouth me to the Lord for eternity.”

Edouard grinned. “I do not think her capable of truly badmouthing her sons.”

Geoffrey wanted to smile at that. But he just felt guilty at even suggesting such a thing of his mother.

The king then made the walk to his mother’s chambers, trying to prepare himself for what was to follow. He didn’t know how much time she had left, or even if she would be alive when he arrived. If Odin had summoned for the priest…

He feared not making it for Agnes. And he did for his mother as well, though he did not know what he would say. Nor did he know what he would feel. One part of him wanted to slow down, and the other wished to quicken his pace to make sure he got there. His heart raced regardless.

When he did arrive, his racing heart skipped a beat as he saw Prince-Bishop Emmanuel leaving the chamber. Am I too late?

“King Geoffrey,” Emmanuel said.

“Is she still with us?” Geoffrey asked.

“Yes,” Emmanuel said. “She is weak however. I would not think she will make it to the morning… but your mother overcame severe illness before.”

“But you gave her… last rites?” Geoffrey asked.

“I must do it before,” Emmanuel explained. “So I can take no chances.”

“Of course,” Geoffrey said. “Thank you.”

“If you have any further need of me, I will not be far,” Emmanuel explained.

Geoffrey nodded and then entered his mother’s chambers. There, he found Beatritz seated at Marguerite’s bedside. Once the duchess caught sight of him, she made her way over.

“I have heard nothing good,” Geoffrey whispered, not wishing to bother his mother.

“Because there is nothing good to say,” Beatritz told him. “No matter how much we wish it.”

Perhaps it was her age - Beatritz was a decade and half older than him - but the whole ordeal just seemed to weigh on the duchess more than most. She had lost weight since she’d come to defend the marriage of her daughter to Duke Guilhem a few years back. The lines in her face had increased as had the amount of gray in her hair.



But despite their previous disagreements and cold relationship, Geoffrey was grateful she was here. He could not attend to his mother now - the realm needed him for one and he doubted he could handle the emotional weight anyway. There was no one better for Marguerite than Beatritz, save possibly Mascarose, and his aunt had likely been busy trying to help put out the fire her son had started with his affair.

“Is Ancel en route?” Geoffrey asked.

“I hope so,” Beatritz said. “I implored him for weeks to come. But he insists he is busy with keeping Brittany going, as his father struggles to do anything but yell at anyone who comes close.”



“Uncle Foulquesson has deteriorated further?” Geoffrey asked.

Beatritz shrugged. “Mentally if not physically. After his mother’s death a few months ago, he became even more short-tempered with everyone. I think it reminded him of what awaits… and his frustration he has not been able to find a good death in battle. Which, I imagine he will seek with your men when you travel to England.”

“If he is up to joining us, I will not turn him away,” Geoffrey said, as his Leyre near-disaster made him more receptive for his prickly but still talented uncle’s help.





There was a groan and Geoffrey looked over to his mother, who was stirring slightly. A cloth was on her forehead, as she lay under blankets, her complexion pale and sickly. The king moved by her side and took her hand, which had become almost skeletal.

“Mother,” Geoffrey said. “Are you all…”

He paused, realizing she was most certainly not alright. All he could manage was a shake of the head at his mistake.

“Is that my sweet boy?” Marguerite asked. Her eyes opened and a small smile came to her face as her gaze met Geoffrey’s. “My boy. My conquering hero.”

Geoffrey smiled broadly at the compliment and glanced back at Beatritz, who came up beside him.

“Leave us,” Marguerite instructed her daughter. “I wish to be alone with him.”

To that, Beatritz frowned but said nothing. She simply bowed and then made her way from the chamber, closing the door behind.

“You came,” Marguerite said. “I was worried you would not come. That you might abandon me, after all the pain I have caused.”

“Of course I came,” Geoffrey said. “I… I was delayed. It was hard to see this. But I had Edouard and Odin keeping me updated. I would not abandon you, mother.”

“Edouard?” Marguerite asked.

Geoffrey did not say anything to that. He knew his mother’s mind was failing. And he did not want to push her on it.

Still, there were tears in her eyes, running down her face. “It has been so long since I have seen you. I have missed you so.”

Geoffrey was taken aback. He knew his mother cared about him, but she made it seem so… extreme. He had not seen her much since his return, but it had not been that long since Iberia.

“It has only been a few months,” Geoffrey said.

“Perhaps time moves… differently for you,” Marguerite said. “But it has been an agonizing wait for me. How I prayed I would see you again. Before it was too late. You and your brother. To guide me to the hereafter, even if you must leave me again after.”

“Alias will be here soon,” Geoffrey said. “He has been delayed by storms.”

“Alias…” Marguerite whispered. “Such a horrid count. Loyal to your father. But I shall not enjoy seeing him again. Neither of them. Nor your aunt.”

Geoffrey smirked. That wasn’t a surprise.

“Not Count Alias,” Geoffrey told her. “I meant your youngest, Alias. Prince of Aquitaine and now Duke of Navarra.”

Marguerite’s eyes widened. “He must not go! There is nothing but danger there. It is cursed! I cannot lose him like I lost y--”

“It is fine,” Geoffrey said, not wanting his mother to grow agitated over nothing. “The war is over. He is duke. He is in no danger,”

“You cannot know that,” Marguerite insisted. “The curse could strike outside of battle. It is a sinister force… it… it…”

Her voice trailed off as she fell almost limp in her bed. Geoffrey’s heart skipped a beat, as he feared she was about to leave him.

But her breathing remained, even it was shallow. Gently, he tried to soothe her by rubbing the cloth on her forehead. She was burning up and yet in blankets - Odin had mentioned to him she had been chilled.

“When will it be time?” she moaned. “When will we go?”

The question unnerving, Geoffrey simply answered: “Hopefully not for a while yet.”

When Marguerite simply moaned in response, Geoffrey frowned.

“Is there anything you need of me?” he asked her. “I assume Beatritz has done a good job caring for you.”

“The poor girl,” Marguerite said. “She does what she can. But I can see the anger in her eyes. The betrayal… knowing I made life so hard on her with my sin.”

Geoffrey guessed his mother referred to the affair she carried on with Aubry Karling, who was likely Beatritz’s actual father. It was a rumor that had mostly drifted from the court as the years passed following Beatritz becoming Duchess of Brittany, but those close to them had not forgotten.

“She is a dutiful daughter,” Geoffrey said. “And you provided well for her. She is a duchess, after all.”

Marguerite mustered a small smile and reached up, with trembling hand, toward him. A chill ran down Geoffrey’s spine, but he resisted his revulsion and leaned forward, allowing her cold fingers to run against his cheeks.

“You have always been so kind to me,” she said. “My little protector. But I failed to protect you. I am sorry. I am so sorry.”

Geoffrey’s brow rose, for he felt she had it quite wrong. He had not truly protected her at all. But she had protected him, the best she could, even empowering her rival Agnes to do it.

Perhaps she meant her desire to be chancellor? But even that, Geoffrey had come to an understanding over.

“You have done well for us,” Geoffrey told her. “Let us forget Iberia. It is in the past.”

“How can I forget Iberia?” Marguerite demanded. “It is where you fell! Had I done more, you would be still with us!”

“I did not fall in Iberia, mother!” Geoffrey assured her. “Leyre was difficult, but we won.”

“Leyre?” Marguerite asked. “Was it not Valencia?”

“No,” Geoffrey assured her. “Valencia was where…”

And suddenly Geoffrey’s eyes grew wide. He realized that his mother was not speaking of him. She was not, in her mind, even speaking to him.

“Foulques,” Geoffrey said. “You think I’m Foulques!”

“Are you not here for me?” Marguerite asked. “My sweet boy, giving me an escort I do not deserve to the hereafter?I prayed it would be you. It has to be you. Please let it be you.”

“I am Geoffrey!” he shouted. “The son who became king, not only of Aquitaine, but England! The man who bested and claimed Navarra for your youngest son, Alias! I have never been defeated, nor even wounded! I am not just some dead count of Poitiers and Saintonge!”

Marguerite just looked at him with wide eyes, and he hoped she would finally snap out of this daze. But she said nothing and in frustration, Geoffrey stormed from the room in a huff.

“Where are you going?” Marguerite called out. “Take me with you! Don’t leave me here! Don’t let them send that hag Agnes for me. Please!!”

Geoffrey turned back for a moment and saw the fear on his mother’s face - she could not bear him leaving. But the king shook his head.

No, she cannot stand my blessed brother leaving, Geoffrey thought. And he is already long gone.

So Geoffrey exited the chamber and slammed the door behind. His stomach felt so twisted it hurt as he leaned up against the wood, while his breathing was rushed. Anger. Sadness. Frustration. Helplessness. They all tugged at him, fighting each other… so much so he dry heaved.

“Brother,” Beatritz began. “What happened in there? Does mother need help? I heard her screaming.”

Geoffrey, still leaning against the door, shook his head as he gripped the bridge of his nose. His eyes remained shut as he motioned back to the chamber.

“She… she cannot be helped,” Geoffrey said. “She thought I was our dead brother Foulques.”

“Oh… my,” Beatritz said. “She has… suffered through her delusions. When Lord Henri visited, she asked him why he had grown his facial hair out after all these years. She thought him his grandfather.”

“He was offended, I take it,” Geoffrey said.

“He did not show it,” Beatritz said. “Instead, he played along.”

Geoffrey grunted. “He has the patience of a saint. I will need to commend him prior to the ceremony.”

“What of mother,” Beatritz asked. “What did you tell her of our brother?”

“I…” Geoffery began. “I… left. I am not him. I am me. Her son who is a king. But she sees right past me, to some ghost of her past.”

“Not some ghost,” Beatritz insisted. “Our brother! Her dead son! It is not like there is no reason.”

“It’s not good enough,” Geoffrey insisted. “I am not about to sit there and have to… listen to that.

“How can you be so callous?!” Beatritz snapped. “Our mother is dying and all you can think of is yourself?! That in her poor state she wishes to see our lost brother?”

“He is not there for her!” Geoffrey retorted. “I am! I am the one who has always had to carry that burden of our parents’ miserable marriage. Making our bastard brother a bishop! Having to hear her complain about Aunt Agnes. To endure her perceived slights…”

“You know nothing,” Beatritz said. “Foulques had to comfort her when she was a pariah, when Duke Foulques had basically locked her away. But that is besides the point. You make it about you. It is always about you. Our mother lays dying… about to leave us forever, and it still must be how you feel!”

Geoffrey lowered his head. Even in his frustration, he knew his sister had a point. However, he didn’t think she fully understood why he was angry.

“Do you… do you know how insulting it is to offer yourself to someone, only to be told you’re not good enough? That she wishes someone else?!” Geoffrey demanded.

“No,” Beatritz said. “I would not know what it is like to take care for mother for the last few weeks, to have to beg for my siblings to come here to see her, and then, in perhaps her final moments with us, have her tell me to leave.”

What could Geoffrey say to that? He rarely felt anything toward his eldest sister, given she was a woman grown by the time he was born. They had spent most of their lives apart, both in a physical and mental sense - not to mention the added barrier of her suspected parentage.

But at the moment, Geoffrey could not ignore the sadness and pity he felt for Beatritz, as well as his shame at acting this way in front of her.

“I’m sorry,” Geoffrey said.

“I don’t want your pity,” Beatritz told him. Then she turned back to the chamber. “I’m going back to her. Even if she does not think of me as she does her boys, she remains my mother. And she gave me life. It is the least I could do.”

Geoffrey said nothing for that as Beatritz re-entered the chamber. He, however, stood motionless.

Did he wish to follow her? She had made a fine argument. And yet… what was the point? So his mother could continue to imagine him as his dead brother?

He had not said it to Beatritz, but there was more than just the mistaken identity. It was also how his mother viewed him and Foulques - his later elder brother was too good for this world, she believed. That he had been called to God because he was better than the sinful world he was a part of.

Unstated in that was everyone else was perfectly at home in such a place. And Geoffrey, king of that world, therefore was unworthy of a trip to heaven.

Given he loved living, Geoffrey didn’t exactly want to die and he believed he could earn his place by God’s side in time. But it was the principle - regardless of if his mother was right, that she believed Foulques was practically an angel, and himself a sinner… or worse, stung.

She did not have to think that, Geoffrey thought. She did not have to voice that. This is her doing.

So he turned to leave. Let Beatritz deal with her. At least she’ll get her moment and perhaps the approval she so desires.

But Geoffrey stopped. He remembered his own illness, and how he thought he might not survive. How scared he was. How isolated he felt much of the time.

He remembered how word was passed to him that his mother wished to see him. She had even tried, but was too weak from her own illness to make it to his chamber. And Geoffrey cried that night because he did not think he would see his mother ever again.

His eyes fell to the ground. It was well over ten years now… and much had changed. But was he so far gone from that boy… that he could turn his back on his mother? Someone who, despite her thoughts on her sons, did all she could to protect her children, even at the sacrifice of her pride?

Perhaps the only time she set aside her pride, he realized.

Taking another deep breath, Geoffrey turned back to the chamber and at a brisk pace, entered. He hoped that perhaps his dramatic entrance might have shocked Marguerite to her senses, or perhaps Beatritz talked sense to her.

But the first words from her mouth upon seeing him were: “Foulques, I thought you had abandoned me.”

Again the words stung and he was tempted to leave again.

However, Beatritz’s glare pinned him. She knew what he was thinking. And he could not bear the shame of abandoning their mother again under her watchful eyes.

He said nothing though, as he sat down next to his mother once more, with Beatritz on the opposite side. Enduring his mother’s mistaken belief was one thing. Humoring it was another.

But his patience would be tested.

“Why are you silent?” Marguerite demanded. “Can you not hear me?”

Geoffrey just dropped his gaze from her. He wanted to flee the chamber once more. To be compared to a dead brother… to be forgotten for said brother…

“Are you angry with me?” Marguerite asked. “Do you hate me for betraying your father? I’m sorry. I’m sorry. I… I…”

Geoffrey stood so abruptly it caused Beatritz to flinch. He couldn’t help it - it was impossible to take any longer. He gave a look to the door and his eyes lingering on it for a moment.

Then he gaze shifted back to his mother, who looked on the verge of tears. Closing his eyes and gripping her hand he said: “I am not angry with you mother. Your mistake… your action… it was between you and he. Do not worry yourself about us. You did what you could. We could ask for little more.”

And though he spoke those words because they sounded nice, he realized quickly they weren’t untrue. Marguerite had done what she could do for him, and then when she couldn’t, she handed him off to Agnes. To Adhemar. To Knud. To Count Alias while he lived, and the old king as well. And when she saw they were gone, she tried to do one more thing - even if he rejected her.

“But if I had said more,” Marguerite said. “Had I fought your father… perhaps you would still be here.”

Geoffrey winced, tears squeezed from his eyes. “You cannot blame yourself. We make our own choices. I am a man grown. You did your part. Now we must do our own.”

Marguerite fell silent. Then her eyes grew wide.

“Geoffrey,” she said. “Geoffrey… I am so sorry.”

“I’m certain he understands,” Geoffrey said. “He can be… stubborn. But in time, with some help, he can understand.”

He glanced over to his sister, who smiled slightly at him, despite the tears in her eyes.

“No,” Marguerite said forcefully. “You. Geoffrey.”

Now it was Geoffrey’s turn to look surprised as his gaze quickly returned to Marguerite. “Mother! You recognize me!”

Her face grew red. “I’m sorry. My mind is playing tricks on me. I see all manner of things. I thought it was your brother… here to take me.”

Between the redness of her embarrassment, and her sullen eyes, Geoffrey couldn’t help but feel pangs of guilt. Had he really grown that angry with a dying woman?

“It is fine mother,” Geoffrey said. “I am here. As is Beatritz. Alias and Aines are on their way.”

“I knew you would be quick enough,” Marguerite said. “You always came quickly. A funny story that… perhaps when I knew you would never be second to anyone.”

Geoffrey scratched his head. “What do you mean? What story?”

“A pity there may not be anyone left to tell it,” Marguerite said.

“You can tell it,” Geoffrey told her.

But Marguerite did not answer, the small grin remaining on her lips. Geoffrey gently shook her hand.

“What is the story mother?” Geoffrey asked again.

When there was again no answer, he looked her over, and found her perfectly still. He did not even see her chest rise any longer.

“Mother?!” Beatritz asked. “Mother?”

A chill ran down Geoffrey’s spine. He stood up and moved to call for his physician. But the words did not come out. He knew it was pointless. He knew she was gone.

….

Geoffrey was not sure what he expected to feel when his mother passed.

His father’s death had left him with some sadness, but also a great deal of fear and anxiety as he was now king on his own. Agnes’ death left him heartbroken and somewhat lonely, as he lost perhaps the person who’s opinion on life he trusted the most.

He certainly felt some sadness now that Marguerite had left him. But mostly he just felt empty, as if a massive hole had formed in his chest that was too vast to be filled.

It was strange because he would never have counted himself close with his mother. He honored her as he felt a son should, but she was often an annoyance more than anything else. Her insistence his bastard brother be elevated to bishop, her actions that saw him put into conflict with Pope Martinus in Rome, and just a half year before, her demand to be installed as his chancellor.

But he also knew she loved him and always fought for his protection. If she wished to meddle in everything, she could have. Instead, she mostly stepped back, only interfering when her emotions got the better of her. Which was too frequent for his liking, but perhaps it was what should have been expected given he believed women tended to be more emotional.

So a day later he found himself no closer to his answer as he sat alone in his chambers, sipping on wine. His mind did frequently return to her story though - the tease she had offered him with her last words. How did she know he would be destined for such things, to never be second to anyone?

It was foolish to dwell on such things, he realized. He had to prepare himself for his brother’s arrival, which would likely happen later that evening. A rider had been sent out to inform him, but it would still not be easy when he arrived. Alias was closer to their mother than he was - it would likely hit him harder.

His Aunt Mascarose had been distraught when she had reached Bordeaux the night before. But Geoffrey had not told her - Edouard had been the one who had delivered the news, saying the king and his sister were both unable to speak to her at that moment. No such luxuries could be afforded with Alias.

Meanwhile, Geoffrey wasn’t exactly sure how his sister Aines would react, though he imagined she might celebrate in private. It would prove her every bit mother’s daughter if she does that, he thought.

His thoughts were interrupted, however, by Prince Bishop Emmanuel, who had come to discuss the arrangements for Marguerite’s funeral.



“King Geoffrey, how do you fare?” Emmanuel asked. “It is never easy to say goodbye to a parent.”

Geoffrey nodded. “It is difficult to put into words how I feel. My mother… my mother was complicated.”

“That she was,” Emmanuel said. “A woman who… almost lived two lives. When I met her upon my elevation to my role in Agen, she looked as though she had been through a lifetime already. And yet, she had so much more to experience… and endure. To become a queen, to lose two sons, have a daughter betray family… but also a son become a king to two realms, have multiple grandchildren, two daughters as duchesses, and of course, her youngest now a duke. So much to one person…”

Geoffrey sighed. Emmanuel recounted what had happened during his tenure at Agen, which conveniently left out the touchier subject of her affair with Aubry Karling, and the bastard it produced. And of course, the hatchet it had taken to her marriage.

Or, if Geoffrey was being kind, how it must have felt to know that her father had been murdered by her future father-by-law, who ruled where she lived. To have no escape, no hope… it was a powerlessness that was so uncomfortable to Geoffrey he tried his best not to think about it.

“I do know she was immensely proud of you, your highness,” Emmanuel said. “She had much fear when your father died… but you put her mind at ease with your efforts and success.”

As much as Geoffrey wished to smile at that, her insistence on becoming his chancellor suggested she didn’t quite trust him as much as Emmanuel believed.

“So she said,” Geoffrey said. “I mean, she even claimed she had a story about how she knew I would be second to no one. But… that she had the story was the last thing she said to me. She never told me of it.”

Emmanuel nodded. “I am sorry to hear that. It is a tragedy when things are left unsaid. But know that even if the story was not told… she did believe in you and was proud of what you have done.”

The words sounded nice but seemed empty. So a meek nod was Geoffrey’s only response. He wondered if Emmanuel might notice, but the prince-bishop seemed deep in his own thoughts.

“I wonder…” Emmanuel said.

“What do you wonder?” Geoffrey asked.

Emmanuel lowered his head. “Forgive me God. I think it necessary to speak on this.”

After crossing himself, the prince-bishop looked at Geoffrey. “Your mother confessed something to me during her churching after she birthed you. I believe it relates to what she told you before her death.”

“What do you mean?” Geoffrey asked, nervous over anything that might come out of a confessional.

“After your birth, your mother confessed she had terrible thoughts toward you,” Emmanuel admitted. “I’m sure you’ve heard her labors with you came so quickly she could not make it to her birthing chambers, and you were born in the strategy hall.”

“I am aware, yes,” Geoffrey said.

“Well, she believed it was a sign that you would not be content at being second to your brother, Foulques,” Emmanuel explained. “That in time you would desire more… his lands. His title. Perhaps his wife, his power… everything. That you would take his birthright - and kill him in the process.”

“Why… why would I do that?” Geoffrey asked. “And she thought that of a babe?!”

“I have heard worse thoughts of women,” Emmanuel said. “Especially during churchings. I find many struggle with their recovery from pregnancy. I advise prayer, for trust in God soothes most ills.”

Geoffrey was hardly comforted by such thoughts.

“She thought I would murder my brother?” Geoffrey asked. “Like a latter day Cain?”

“She struggled to make sense of it,” Emmanuel said. “But I bring this up because that is not what happened. When people see signs, they can be misinterpreted.”

“Clearly,” Geoffrey said.

“But she wasn’t wholly wrong,” Emmanuel said. “In fact, in the end she was quite right. You do have your brother’s birthright. It was not because of what you did, but it is what has happened. God did have a different role in mind for the younger Foulques… and one for you as well.”

Geoffrey eased back in his chair. He had not thought of it that way.

“So I was to lead Aquitaine?” Geoffrey asked.

“Yes,” Emmanuel said. “And England. Perhaps even all of Christendom in time. I know not if your brother had the qualities you do. The strength to handle the burdens… of two kingdoms and so much more.”

“Burdens,” Geoffrey said. “Like defending England against Fatimid invaders?”

Emmanuel nodded. “It is nothing to rise to a call you have sent out. But to defend others… perhaps even in circumstances less than favorable… your father could never muster such things. Your brother… he wished to, I think. But it was not his fate. You… that this story comes to you now? I think it is once again God at work.”

Geoffrey stroked his chin and slowly nodded. Emmanuel’s words made sense. Perhaps it was all a sign.

“Thank you,” Geoffrey said. “I will need your assistance however. I wish my mother prepared for burial. We will bury her as soon as my siblings have arrived. Then I will take my men north to fight the heathens that have landed on England’s shores. I will do what Thoraed could not - and show them how a true Christian king defends his subjects against heathens.”

Emmanuel smiled. “That is fine news, my king.”

“Thank you Emmanuel,” Geoffrey said. “Once more your counsel has proven invaluable.”

“It is my honor, King Geoffrey,” Emmanuel said. “And once more, may I offer my condolences for your loss. Your mother… she did not always lead the most Godly of lives. But she loved you dearly.”

“I know,” Geoffrey said. “Her devotion to her children was her most redeeming quality.”

That drew a nod from the prince-bishop before he departed from the chamber. Geoffrey then leaned back and sipped his wine, letting loose another sigh.

Her most redeeming quality, Geoffrey thought. Does her devotion to her children make up for her affair? For her bitterness and short-sighted foolishness?

He swirled the cup, the liquid providing no insight. His eyes drifted upward.

Does it even matter, Geoffrey wondered. Her worst offense took place before I was born. Decades before I was born. I never felt my father’s anger over it directly… it was a story, like my one grandfather murdering the other. All I knew was a mother who always wished the best for me, even if it made her miserable.

His eyes dropped before him, toward the door to the chamber. No one was left to answer his question. And in the end, he realized, it was out of his control now. His mother was with God now.

So Geoffrey dropped his knees. “Please, my mother is with You now. I know she was not the most pious of women, nor the greatest of Christians. She made many mistakes... but please forgive her. She has suffered enough in life. Let her have a place by Your side. She did not think herself deserving of one… but I pray you think otherwise.”

The king crossed himself in silence, before it was broken by a sob, muffled by his own hand over his mouth.

 
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Midnite Duke

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For the first time in almost fifty years, may Marguerite rest in peace, her demons to trouble her no more.
 
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codie

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Oh no, poor Marguerite, though at least illness didn't take her at a relatively young age, as it did her mother, and Ness. Still, her loss will no doubt leave a hole in the hearts of her children, especially Beatriz, Geoffrey and Alias, though I suspect Aines will be distraught as well, given her quasi-reconciliation before her mother's death.. I also feel for Mascarose, other than her brother, children, grandchildren and those of her sisters, she has no one left, especially when it comes to people within her own generation. Part of me also wonders how Adhemar will react, in spite of some differences it seemed that the two always strived to do right by Geoffrey, and that she may have been the closest thing he had to a mother(other than Mascarose)... At least now she is with Foulques the younger, Aubry, and to a lesser extent, Geoffrey and Ness.. Bravo, excellent conclusion to Marguerite's long and eventful life
 
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TheButterflyComposer

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If she wished to risk herself because she did not like his timeline, then he had no problems letting her pay the price.”
Orphaned speech mark.

Miserable business,” Geoffrey said. “There are some lines which should not be crossed.”

Edouard’s gaze fell from the king, but he did nod.

“Please,” Geoffrey said. “I have done some… poor things. But I will not ever touch my brother’s wife. Even if she didn’t look like a camel.”
Mm. Brother no, uncle yes.

“And how am I to judge?” Edouard asked.

“You doubt your capabilities?” Geoffrey asked.

“Forgive me, I did not speak clearly enough,” Edouard said. “How do you want me to rule?
What a spineless turd! I think we've found our new archbishop when the old one cacks it.

Odin shook his head. “I summoned the prince-bishop for her. I would go to her now, my king.”

And there it was. The news that Geoffrey dreaded. But it was inevitable.
They are all going.

cared less about that. Asking about her was more a courtesy - it seemed the proper Christian thing to do. And he was a proper Christian, after all.
Well...no, but then again, his forebears would never be so compelled to act based on mercy and faith in the way this G is, in this chapter and throughout his life. It's a curious thing, but I think if anyone could rehabilitate the House of the Devil, it would be him. He may yet be righteous amongst men.

“Uncle Foulquesson has deteriorated further?” Geoffrey asked.

Beatritz shrugged. “Mentally if not physically.
Especially if all his awful uncles die. That though would be the end of an era of all the power being held by G1 and his cronies/siblings. May be for good, may be for ill as the duchies go their own ways and aren't so tighly held by one close blooded family.
 
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stnylan

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Geoffrey...

Three times in this update we see Geoffrey shirking responsibility. In mediation with Adhemer, in the war in England, and at his mother's bedside. Three times he denied. I am not quite sure if this is deliberate, but I am getting shades of Simon Peter here - perhaps foreshadowing a great destiny for Geoffrey. I note the following exchange:

“So I was to lead Aquitaine?” Geoffrey asked.

“Yes,” Emmanuel said. “And England. Perhaps even all of Christendom in time. I know not if your brother had the qualities you do. The strength to handle the burdens… of two kingdoms and so much more.”


Is Geoffrey fated to be the rock upon which Christendom stands?

I am almost certainly reading far too much into this, but it is fun to speculate. And I note, in relation to all the above, that rebuked he does eventually answer two of the duties he had been dodging.

Dodgy allusions to one side a moment, Geoffrey dodging duties in just very much in character. Or, more accurately, putting tasks he finds distasteful off since, as mentioned, he does generally eventually get around to them (or plan to). He's been putting off seeing his mother, he's putting off going to England, but he always intended to do both. It is, I believe, another facet of how self-centred and selfish he is. You can even see this right at the start with his meeting with his new count - he only ever thought of the situation from his own perspective, never from the perspective of the new Count Henri. Likewise he rants to Beatriz about being thought of as his brother .... to the one person who absolutely knows exactly that pain and worse.

Enter mouth, insert both feet. Again.

“There are some lines which should not be crossed.”

Again, self-centred to a fault. I mean the entire conversation with Edouard was just awkward from that moment onward. Indeed I thing Edouard's whole handling of Geoffrey here is interesting. He pushes on the matter of England, but not too much. A sake of form perhaps? And then when given a task he needs to check exactly what Geoffrey requires. This speaks to me that Geoffrey's temper and fickle selfishness has been increasingly noticed, and Edouard is just adapting, hoping to survive.

Going back to Beatriz I do like her moment of fire here. Largely seen on the edges, her she shows the steel of her blood right enough. Her self-righteousness and her sense of duty harks back to an older d'Anjou. I also like the obvious (so obvious I didn't think about it this way at first) reality here that when Beatriz scolds Geoffrey we have an older sister telling off her younger brother. Ignore for a moment their titles and all that - she was telling off a (much) younger brother. I think this emphasises just how puerile Geoffrey essentially is in this little scene. And yet ... Beatriz stands there as an image of duty, and endurance. Of a different d'Anjoy way, from a different d'Anjou day. Not faultless, for the d'Anjou are full of fault - but the d'Anjou in power now are fickle in a way they once were not.

And this leads me onto my favourite line of the update:

And he was a proper Christian, after all.

This is such a well crafted little line, just eight words, but they sum up in their brevity just how un-Christian Geoffrey actually is. It is one of the greatest indictments against his character in text, and it is all the more effective for being his own thought. Brilliant writing.
 
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And so, the venom and hate had truly left Marguerite when she was left powerless in Bordeaux. She has been a great influence, and her stubbornness and schemes may not be missed, but still lack in some way.
And in the end, all she thought about were her children - even if mostly her favourite, she was able to tell Geoffrey goodbye.

Emmanuèl has often been a figure in the background, acting mostly through his existence as highest-ranked priest of the realm - and now it is his time to shine. A few choice words for a man who despite all his sins wants to be pious, and he can truly guide him. Mostly thanks to actually being worthy of a clerical title, unlike the old pope.

Henri - he seems to be useful, but he surely hides something. And that's what he's best at. Some honey to confirm his title, then perhaps make himself needed by the king, and he'd be in a prime position to act. Be it for revenge, or simply for power - who knows? Douard, who has been pretty forgettable in his achievements, should fear for his place on the council.

It also seems like too many have taken to see "the Angevin lifestyle" as something to be emulated. Gui may be dead, but there's at least Small Fry and Albéric beginning their escapades. With Geoffrey at the helm, there's more than one scandal brewing there. Especially if the Périgords are involved, this will be another test of his abilities as King.
 
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Fare thee well, Marguerite. She has had a long and full life, if not necessarily a happy one, and certainly deserves a bit of rest.

Like a few of the others undoubtedly did, I had to repress a chuckle at Geoffrey declaring himself to be a proper Christian, because he most certainly is not a great model of Christian piety. On the other hand, also as mentioned above, I do think he's come the closest of all the Angevins we've seen to actually trying, even if he often falls well short of the mark. It's one reason why, despite my past frustrations with his actions, I've never really disliked him as a character.

One bit I found particularly interesting:

Emmanuel lowered his head. “Forgive me God. I think it necessary to speak on this.”

After crossing himself, the prince-bishop looked at Geoffrey. “Your mother confessed something to me during her churching after she birthed you. I believe it relates to what she told you before her death.”
On the surface it seems like he's merely asking forgiveness for breaking the sanctity of the confessional; simple enough, and some might leave it at that. However, if you read between the lines at what motivates Emmanuel to speak, it's clear that he wants Geoffrey in England defending them against the infidels in service to Christendom. He knows that Geoffrey's complicated bond with his mother and personal desire for glory will likely make him susceptible to the story he's about to tell, which he can use to get what he wants.

In short, I think Emmanuel is on some level aware that he's manipulating an emotionally vulnerable man into doing something he wouldn't ordinarily do, which is what he's asking forgiveness for here. He may not consciously frame it in those terms -- he might even consider him being put there at this moment, with this knowledge, at a time when Christendom needs Geoffrey's sword arm, as being evidence that God meant him to be there for that purpose -- but on some subconscious level at least, he feels guilty about having to play on someone's insecurities to get what he wants, even if it's in service to the greater good.

Equally, though, I think it's significant that this is coming from such a selfless (and guileless) man as Emmanuel in the first place. He isn't doing this out of some self-centered desire for personal gain, but because he honestly believes this will be good for Christendom, good for England and Aquitaine, and even good for Geoffrey personally, spiritually if not necessarily materially.
 
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For the first time in almost fifty years, may Marguerite rest in peace, her demons to trouble her no more.
I hope she does find her peace. Few characters we've followed in this story have had a more miserable existence - with circumstance and personal choice combining for her suffering. I'd like to think that she got a better handle on it all as she got older... but most of her demons never truly left her. Even as they departed in a physical sense.

Oh no, poor Marguerite, though at least illness didn't take her at a relatively young age, as it did her mother, and Ness. Still, her loss will no doubt leave a hole in the hearts of her children, especially Beatriz, Geoffrey and Alias, though I suspect Aines will be distraught as well, given her quasi-reconciliation before her mother's death.. I also feel for Mascarose, other than her brother, children, grandchildren and those of her sisters, she has no one left, especially when it comes to people within her own generation. Part of me also wonders how Adhemar will react, in spite of some differences it seemed that the two always strived to do right by Geoffrey, and that she may have been the closest thing he had to a mother(other than Mascarose)... At least now she is with Foulques the younger, Aubry, and to a lesser extent, Geoffrey and Ness.. Bravo, excellent conclusion to Marguerite's long and eventful life
Yeah, as far as age goes, Marguerite did pretty well. She got to live past 60 - 10 years longer than it looked like she'd get when she was seriously ill with the cough. And I wouldn't even call it a wasted 10 years - she made her influence felt, even if it may not have been as much as she'd liked.

I think all her surviving children would have interesting reactions to it, as each had a different relationship with her. I've mentioned before the odd cut off between her first three children and last three. As Geoffrey notes here, so much of his mother's ill-reputation stemmed from things he wasn't around to experience. For him, Alias and Aines, their mother was just... their mother, who never really got along with their father for reasons that were clear yet alien. I suspect the most heartbroken would actually be Alias, especially because I think there was a lot unsaid between them. But sadly, I won't be able to explore all that in the text - I'm behind enough as is!

Good thought on Mascarose. She wasn't that close with that generation as the youngest, but still, her older two sisters are gone now. And so is her husband, who she had a good relationship with. Her son will give her plenty to handle though... Small Fry really does live up to his nickname in that regard.

Adhemar/Marguerite is an interesting relationship that I never got a chance to fully explore from his perspective. I tend to think he didn't think that highly of his sister, due to her actions with Aubry. Remember, Adhemar was practically raised by Foulques IV, so he lacks those feelings of animosity. I imagine he might even wonder if the Iron Duke was his father. Not to say he had glowing feelings towards the Angevins... but that's more due to issues with Geoffrey I and his nephew being well... Geoffrey.

Which is to say, I think Adhemar had no qualms about advancing himself and his nephew using Marguerite, but I don't think he had a great love for her. Nor her for him.

Marguerite would be very sad if she were with her sons, if they weren't all in heaven! But hopefully she can find peace. And thank you! I always aim do right by my characters and their exit, therefore, is rather important.

Orphaned speech mark.



Mm. Brother no, uncle yes.



What a spineless turd! I think we've found our new archbishop when the old one cacks it.



They are all going.



Well...no, but then again, his forebears would never be so compelled to act based on mercy and faith in the way this G is, in this chapter and throughout his life. It's a curious thing, but I think if anyone could rehabilitate the House of the Devil, it would be him. He may yet be righteous amongst men.



Especially if all his awful uncles die. That though would be the end of an era of all the power being held by G1 and his cronies/siblings. May be for good, may be for ill as the duchies go their own ways and aren't so tighly held by one close blooded family.
Thanks - I corrected that!

Yeah, when I have characters rationalize, I like to have it be it both a sensible rationalization and yet humorous in the absurdity of the cut off. Thus we get "uncle, but not brother". Which, I guess, was sort of his father's mantra too, though Geoffrey I came verrry close to actually pursuing a relationship with Essa.

Edouard is admittedly in a tough place. Marguerite read that right - he both has power due to his title, but he's always at the risk of running afoul of Emmanuel in his church duties and Geoffrey with everything else. I'd imagine Geoffrey's fury over England has also made all of his councilors extra careful with how they handle matters, in order to give themselves cover. And, as Geoffrey says, he is both men's first cousins (at least so much as is known), so his loyalties are divided.

I bet Geoffrey would have loved to elevate Edouard. My annoyance was that I never got the chance to tilt things in his favor. It was always another Aquitaine candidate for cardinal ahead of Edouard.

Yeah, many of the older characters from Gen 2 are making their exits. Which, in fairness, is what should have happened around this point. It's just stark because the cough took quite a few earlier (as well as leprosy taking Geof I). The other thing that's starting to happen is Gen 2.5 - the Foulques the Younger gen, is also starting to fade, as they reach their 40s.

As mentioned above... there's always that level of hypocrisy with Geoffrey. He is, more than his predecessors, very worried about his soul, I'd say. He does want to be a "Good Christian." He's not, though some of that is the product of his environment/era. Some of it is just him. Is it better to try and fail most times (and occasionally succeed) than to never try at all?

They're not all going to exit just yet... but there are a few more exits coming. One in a relatively short time in gametime (within the next couple of years). It does cause the potential for problems, since everyone becomes cousins, rather than siblings. And the further you separate the cousins, the less of a familial bond that remains.

Geoffrey...

Three times in this update we see Geoffrey shirking responsibility. In mediation with Adhemer, in the war in England, and at his mother's bedside. Three times he denied. I am not quite sure if this is deliberate, but I am getting shades of Simon Peter here - perhaps foreshadowing a great destiny for Geoffrey. I note the following exchange:

“So I was to lead Aquitaine?” Geoffrey asked.

“Yes,” Emmanuel said. “And England. Perhaps even all of Christendom in time. I know not if your brother had the qualities you do. The strength to handle the burdens… of two kingdoms and so much more.”


Is Geoffrey fated to be the rock upon which Christendom stands?

I am almost certainly reading far too much into this, but it is fun to speculate. And I note, in relation to all the above, that rebuked he does eventually answer two of the duties he had been dodging.

Dodgy allusions to one side a moment, Geoffrey dodging duties in just very much in character. Or, more accurately, putting tasks he finds distasteful off since, as mentioned, he does generally eventually get around to them (or plan to). He's been putting off seeing his mother, he's putting off going to England, but he always intended to do both. It is, I believe, another facet of how self-centred and selfish he is. You can even see this right at the start with his meeting with his new count - he only ever thought of the situation from his own perspective, never from the perspective of the new Count Henri. Likewise he rants to Beatriz about being thought of as his brother .... to the one person who absolutely knows exactly that pain and worse.

Enter mouth, insert both feet. Again.

“There are some lines which should not be crossed.”

Again, self-centred to a fault. I mean the entire conversation with Edouard was just awkward from that moment onward. Indeed I thing Edouard's whole handling of Geoffrey here is interesting. He pushes on the matter of England, but not too much. A sake of form perhaps? And then when given a task he needs to check exactly what Geoffrey requires. This speaks to me that Geoffrey's temper and fickle selfishness has been increasingly noticed, and Edouard is just adapting, hoping to survive.

Going back to Beatriz I do like her moment of fire here. Largely seen on the edges, her she shows the steel of her blood right enough. Her self-righteousness and her sense of duty harks back to an older d'Anjou. I also like the obvious (so obvious I didn't think about it this way at first) reality here that when Beatriz scolds Geoffrey we have an older sister telling off her younger brother. Ignore for a moment their titles and all that - she was telling off a (much) younger brother. I think this emphasises just how puerile Geoffrey essentially is in this little scene. And yet ... Beatriz stands there as an image of duty, and endurance. Of a different d'Anjoy way, from a different d'Anjou day. Not faultless, for the d'Anjou are full of fault - but the d'Anjou in power now are fickle in a way they once were not.

And this leads me onto my favourite line of the update:

And he was a proper Christian, after all.

This is such a well crafted little line, just eight words, but they sum up in their brevity just how un-Christian Geoffrey actually is. It is one of the greatest indictments against his character in text, and it is all the more effective for being his own thought. Brilliant writing.
Excellent analysis, as always.

I think so much of it ties together. The idea of duty. What is expected. I've mentioned before that when writing Geoffrey, who started out as extremely immature and childish, that I never fully want to lose that aspect of him. I want it shrunk, because he's older. And he has grown. But there are aspects which have not changed. Perhaps the manner at which he expresses that childishness changes, but the heart of it remains the same. That's in this chapter, and it certainly comes out in the next one as well.

In this, we see the delay. We've seen Geoffrey delay before. Heck we've seen him delay in a circumstance that was quite similar to this! But the maturity and growth in how he handles it is there - nobody has to scream at him to go visit his dying mother because he's in denial. Even if he essentially is staying away for the same reason he did with Agnes. Mature on the outside, but at the heart, the same childish behavior. That childish hope that, somehow, it will all go away if he ignores it and everything will be fine. Or it will sort itself out.

But the full on childish Geoffrey returns eventually. Marguerite's mistake drives Geoffrey to his worst, because it harmed his ego. And the bruising of that ego by others is what causes him to lash out the worst. Geoffrey's actually shown the ability to handle his own mistakes bruising his own ego. But he's never been able to handle when others do it. And it brings out the most childish aspects of him.

For the record, I'd say it's no coincidence Ælfflæd is the one who brings out that lack of maturity in him more than anyone else - he's bruised her ego badly a great many times, and it's always made her more willing than anyone else to return the favor.

I think you have Edouard down pretty well - he's doing what is necessary to survive. In that, I do think there's a bit of him trying to do right by Geoffrey, who he has an actual familial relationship with, as opposed to Adhemar and Small Fry which he doesn't as much. Unstated in this text, but underlying based on what's been said before - Edouard has to take some cues from Emmanuel. The church wants Geoffrey to get involved in England. And it would look bad if he didn't. I mean, if a king won't defend his wife against heathen invasion, what incentive do others have get involved in Holy Wars? And after the church gave Geoffrey its blessing in Iberia, some repayment is expected.

Edouard doesn't want his cousin to screw himself. But he can't yell these things at Geoffrey. So he has to prod him along.

So I'd put those situations in slightly different silos. With England, Edouard has some stake in wanting a certain outcome. With the feuding cousins... not so much. Edouard doesn't have a close relationship with the younger Adhemar, nor any really with Small Fry. And I get the sense he has friction with Duke Adhemar, as he's likely closer to his half-brother Duke Guilhem, even if he doesn't agree with him on methods. So there... it's a "it's not worth me sticking out my neck to adlib a result. What do you want?" type of situation.

Beatritz/Geoffrey has always been a strange relationship, because there's a deference that Geoffrey expects from his siblings that Beatritz rarely shows him due to their huge age difference. Beatritz was a married woman before Geoffrey was born. She wasn't around him when he grew. They are siblings by blood, but by little else.

That's a huge change from Geoffrey, Aines and Alias, who were siblings who grew up together. It's also different from Beatritz and Foulques the Younger (and to a degree Aubry), who also grew together. In that, I wonder how much Beatritz's life changed with her brother's death and how much it affected her. There would have been a closeness and kinship between her and a King Foulques that simply is not there with Geoffrey and probably never will be there. It causes all of their interactions to have a degree of coldness to them.

It's also interesting to note their differing idea of duty. Some of that is the realities of station - Foulques IV was a count, then a duke, Geoffrey I a duke then a king, and Geoffrey II always a king. It was bound to create a different idea and perspective of the world.

I also wonder how much of it is Beatritz having lived the world Geoffrey has largely only heard about. Geoffrey knows of the legacy and exploits of his grandfather - Beatritz knew Foulques IV in the flesh. Geoffrey heard of the horrors of his parents marriage (I would say what he saw mostly pales in comparison to the earlier days). Beatritz is the product of the misery of that war between husband and wife, and suffered often because of it - remember Geoffrey I demanded Marguerite abandon Beatritz to return with him to Bordeaux at one point during Foulques reign in Anjou. Marguerite refused.

That's a story Geoffrey may or may not have heard. That was real life for Beatritz. Even the idea of Foulques the Younger - he was/is an abstract for Geoffrey who was far too young to remember him. For Beatritz, Foulques was a person - someone she cared for and grew up with.

I think Beatritz spoke from the heart in her forceful rebuke of Geoffrey. She misses her lost brother too, far more than she cares for her current kingly and living one. To have Geoffrey spit on that memory because his ego was bruised... it just reinforced the childish nature that Beatritz, having always viewed Geoffrey as her baby brother, already is likely to see.

I'm glad you enjoyed that line. It was, as you note, meant to take a shot at Geoffrey with a wink to the reader, noting his delusions. I felt it actually shows Geoffrey fits well with his father - more than he gives himself credit for. There was always an delicate balance of image and truth behind Geoffrey I - and the king himself sometimes got caught believing the former over the latter. Geoffrey II certainly slips into it as well - he has a image he's crafting for himself, which is meant to cover for a more ugly truth. But Geoffrey II is not above believing the more palatable image - even if we all know he's full of it.


And so, the venom and hate had truly left Marguerite when she was left powerless in Bordeaux. She has been a great influence, and her stubbornness and schemes may not be missed, but still lack in some way.
And in the end, all she thought about were her children - even if mostly her favourite, she was able to tell Geoffrey goodbye.

Emmanuèl has often been a figure in the background, acting mostly through his existence as highest-ranked priest of the realm - and now it is his time to shine. A few choice words for a man who despite all his sins wants to be pious, and he can truly guide him. Mostly thanks to actually being worthy of a clerical title, unlike the old pope.

Henri - he seems to be useful, but he surely hides something. And that's what he's best at. Some honey to confirm his title, then perhaps make himself needed by the king, and he'd be in a prime position to act. Be it for revenge, or simply for power - who knows? Douard, who has been pretty forgettable in his achievements, should fear for his place on the council.

It also seems like too many have taken to see "the Angevin lifestyle" as something to be emulated. Gui may be dead, but there's at least Small Fry and Albéric beginning their escapades. With Geoffrey at the helm, there's more than one scandal brewing there. Especially if the Périgords are involved, this will be another test of his abilities as King.
Yeah, I felt the close nature of the events - six months or so apart - meant they had to be tied together. I think Marguerite's time was short anyway but the difficult to "public" life that she suffered with Geoffrey hastened the inevitable.

Marguerite was never a particularly good grand schemer - she was far too short-sighted and emotional for it. She had her moments, but some of that was more good fortune. Driving Essa off was temporary, circumstance made it permanent. Otherwise, her best "plan" was letting Agnes have influence over Geoffrey II. To her credit, it's probably the wisest thing she ever did.

Her children were her everything - her joy, her sadness, her hope, her despair, her pride and her disappointment. Interestingly enough, of Geoffrey I, Agnes, Foulques IV and Marguerite, only Marguerite died with her children by her side. (Though Agnes, in a way, did - just not her blood children) It was fitting for her.

Emmanuel is a figure I've had in the background but he's actually been around a long time now. He ascended just a few months after Geoffrey I became Duke of Anjou - and a mediocre replacement for the former Bishop of Agen! But he's hung around, and my elevation of him is no mistake. Despite his advanced age, there's more to come from the old prince-bishop. He's rather heavily involved in events that happen over the next two years... extending beyond.

Henri is another with a future in this story. He continues with the De Limousin trait of superb intrigue. I won't say what his future holds, but Douard is right to be concerned over a lot of things. He's good at what he does, but old Henri? He'd be great.

Small Fry is, as mentioned above, is really true to his name - a smaller/younger Geoffrey. So expect to see a bit more of that - though he too will have a role in the future, even beyond the womanizing.

As for Alberic... I had a whole background for this situation. Looking at the children Jaufret's wife has had, I actually believe she and Alberic began their affair before Jaufret and her were wed. Or slightly after. It's just recently been discovered. So I imagine Alberic does actually love the woman, especially since his own lack of children probably has caused issues between himself and his own wife. But... it doesn't make it right. And is another strike against the Count of Perigord - never a good thing when there are plenty of people in his family who might want that county and are a lot closer to the king these days than he is.

Fare thee well, Marguerite. She has had a long and full life, if not necessarily a happy one, and certainly deserves a bit of rest.

Like a few of the others undoubtedly did, I had to repress a chuckle at Geoffrey declaring himself to be a proper Christian, because he most certainly is not a great model of Christian piety. On the other hand, also as mentioned above, I do think he's come the closest of all the Angevins we've seen to actually trying, even if he often falls well short of the mark. It's one reason why, despite my past frustrations with his actions, I've never really disliked him as a character.

One bit I found particularly interesting:



On the surface it seems like he's merely asking forgiveness for breaking the sanctity of the confessional; simple enough, and some might leave it at that. However, if you read between the lines at what motivates Emmanuel to speak, it's clear that he wants Geoffrey in England defending them against the infidels in service to Christendom. He knows that Geoffrey's complicated bond with his mother and personal desire for glory will likely make him susceptible to the story he's about to tell, which he can use to get what he wants.

In short, I think Emmanuel is on some level aware that he's manipulating an emotionally vulnerable man into doing something he wouldn't ordinarily do, which is what he's asking forgiveness for here. He may not consciously frame it in those terms -- he might even consider him being put there at this moment, with this knowledge, at a time when Christendom needs Geoffrey's sword arm, as being evidence that God meant him to be there for that purpose -- but on some subconscious level at least, he feels guilty about having to play on someone's insecurities to get what he wants, even if it's in service to the greater good.

Equally, though, I think it's significant that this is coming from such a selfless (and guileless) man as Emmanuel in the first place. He isn't doing this out of some self-centered desire for personal gain, but because he honestly believes this will be good for Christendom, good for England and Aquitaine, and even good for Geoffrey personally, spiritually if not necessarily materially.
Agreed. She deserves a long rest.

I asked the question above whether it's better to try and often fail than to never try at all, and it seems like you fall into the former! Which is fine - I hope to strike that balance which should find some fall on one side and some on the other.

I think your analysis of Emmanuel is pretty much on point! I think he does "take advantage" if you will, of the moment. The purpose... well I can see him believing this the moment for that. Aquitaine seems to be called here and it is a way to get Geoffrey to stop putting off what is his duty. It also may well put the mind of Geoffrey at some rest - since he does struggle with the fact his mother does seem to think better of his brother's soul and his own. Emmanuel reconciles that - they both had purposes that not even Marguerite fully understood!

Emmanuel has also been a quiet rock for Geoffrey - the king has often turned to him at times of emotional distress or personal question. And one thing Emmanuel has improved at is tailoring his words to his king's desires.

As I did mention above, Emmanuel's role in this story is set for a (perhaps surprising) growth, given his age. Perhaps conversations like this one play a role in it. ;)

To all - so that ends Marguerite's time. She was, to many, the biggest villain of this story. I've long said I've held a bit of sorrow for her, for her life was truly ruined by those around her. That said, she was a contributor to her own misery as well. And her issues with depression, only somewhat touched on in the story, made her complicated to write. (Not the least of which was the difficulty in the fact the characters around her had no concept of it)

I preferred to think of Marguerite as a flawed person who was the product of a cruel world, and became a bitter, cruel person, and could never fully break free of that. She tried her best, but never could. I think she made a real effort, for what it's worth, to be a proper wife to Geoffrey I after Foulques IV died. But his affair with Agnes, and the death of their son Foulques as a result wrecked any chance of that. And the loss of her son was something she never could get over - it colored the remainder of her life, even her final conversations with her other son.

Like so many of us, she could never fully escape the past, and struggled as the world did. That her son and others did not share her rage at what came before, and her inability to transmit it, probably just added to her frustrations.

But beyond the tragedy, Marguerite did live a long life, "raising" a bishop, a count, a king, two duchesses and a duke. Her efforts with Geoffrey II, even if it was abdicating such a role to Agnes, were not insignificant. And it short changes her. She certainly did raise her younger children, Geoffrey included.

Suffice to say that Marguerite was certainly one of the most influential characters in this story. It may not have always been intentional, nor may it have always been good. But it doesn't change that it was influential.

And on that note, we do move on. Apologies for the delays in responses - just have been busy with things and when I have had a free moment, I've been trying to write the next chapter. That chapter is done now, and should go up tomorrow. It's a long one - actually one of the longest I've written. Hopefully it proves enjoyable to read even with that.

Hope everyone is faring well in these stressful times. Thanks as always for your patience, analysis, readership and excellent commentary. Be well, and enjoy the chapter tomorrow (or today, depending on where you are)!
 
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Sirdramaticus

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Aug 8, 2019
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so that ends Marguerite's time. She was, to many, the biggest villain of this story.
Yes... Marguerite is the biggest villain in the story. Discounting Foulques I who was a murderer and adulterer. Or Geoffrey I who was an incestuous adulterer. Or Geoffrey II who is the whiniest, most self centered person ever written. However, I think the award for most villainy villain goes to the canibalistic king of Scotland.
 
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