• We have updated our Community Code of Conduct. Please read through the new rules for the forum that are an integral part of Paradox Interactive’s User Agreement.
I've now played to the end of the Misrian Crusade, and interestingly somewhere in all the mayhem Godefroy appears to have picked up the 'Ambitious' trait, while retaining his humility. I'm inclined to read that as "ambitious for his children", what do you think?

Chapter IV will go up later today.

The game has a habit of throwing up improbable traits. Worst example I've had was when I had a Warrior king, a Crusader no less, real lead from the front monarch suddenly gain the 'craven' trait...annoying
Some of them are exclusive (like Shy and Gregarious, or Greedy and Charitable) but others just seem a little bit... odd.

The sudden boost up to a martial rating of 34 came at the perfect moment though.
I've now played to the end of the Misrian Crusade, and interestingly somewhere in all the mayhem Godefroy appears to have picked up the 'Ambitious' trait, while retaining his humility. I'm inclined to read that as "ambitious for his children", what do you think?

That works for me. I've always been inclined to interpret the traits rather broadly anyway, myself. (Another interpretation that might work -- especially given his established piety -- could be a conviction that he views himself as an instrument in God's hands and thus has the obligation to rise to the highest station he possibly can, even if he doesn't necessarily want it for the sake of the position itself.)

At any rate, looking forward to your next chapter. Hope the Fatimids didn't give you too many lumps this time around :p
That works for me. I've always been inclined to interpret the traits rather broadly anyway, myself. (Another interpretation that might work -- especially given his established piety -- could be a conviction that he views himself as an instrument in God's hands and thus has the obligation to rise to the highest station he possibly can, even if he doesn't necessarily want it for the sake of the position itself.)

That works actually, especially as his piety is now somewhere over 2 000. The influence of the Holy Land?

At any rate, looking forward to your next chapter. Hope the Fatimids didn't give you too many lumps this time around :p

It's an interesting tale - I decided it was worth its own chapter instead of trying to fit it in as part of a roughly 3-year slab. At the end of Chapter IV we're at 8 years and 8 days since the Kingdom of Jerusalem was declared.

It seems like so much longer!
IV: Deus Vult​

Men of God are not just born, they are formed.
-Warren, Infernales Infinitum​


Oath of a Knight of Jerusalem

As Jerusalem's levies began to mass in the courtyard before the Tower of David, I felt myself taken back ten years to my journey to this Holy Land. Certainly the landscape was different - the buildings lower and of a more golden stone, while the sky was a soul-aching blue sharply distinct from the fluffy clouds of my homeland. So too differed the banners and the number of soldiers beneath them with a Levantine cast to their features, both converts and those who simply fought for their homes and Lords and left the weighty matters of faith to those better equipped to consider it. But there were similarities too, in the crosses emblazoned on our shields and tabards. Many of the features were familiar too, veteran Crusaders who were all too happy to put away the weighty, murky business of rulership for a time to fight once more with their brothers in arms for God Almighty. So too in the small matter that while the Knights Hospitaller once more massed at my call, the Knights Templar guarding the castle of Beit Dajan on the Egyptian border were a skeleton crew; the greater body of their knightly order were far away in Spain fighting the infidel there that endangered the high mountain bastions of our faith. I missed my brother and my friend all the more; only Gui was left from those long past rides through the countryside of Boulogne, and I took solace in the knowledge that we rode out beneath God's hand and that so long as we kept faith with Him, He would surely be our shield in battle against the unbeliever. I made my farewell from dear Cecile, another child already swelling within her as Edouard and Pierre solemnly promised me to protect their mother in my absence. I promised myself - again - that I would somehow find the time to spend with my boys when this was all over and rode at the head of the column, my lance-tip held high as we paraded out from the Jaffa Gate and down into the Valley of Hinnom.

All through the Kingdom similar columns were parading from their homes and families, a full-throated effort to put an end to the Fatimid menace that loomed over Christ's Kingdom and free the Christians oppressed in the heart of the land from which Moses once delivered his people. I had given order that all our columns were to meet at Beit Dajan, and with my Household were already near halfway there when grave news reached me. It seemed the Caliph, a wrathful child who had suckled hate of the godly from his mother's teat, had somehow sent near six thousands of his men through the arid wastes of the Negev and up toward Monreal. At once I ordered all of our forces to reverse their course and mass at Monreal, then rode out ahead of even my Household with only Gui at my side. We rode two horses a'piece lame on that long journey, but at last we arrived at the tributary of the Jordan, running especially shallow in the fierce summer heat; our final mounts, our warhorses, weary but not altogether spent. What I found there made me glad of our sacrifice, not least because of my own insistence that none fight for me without I myself stand by their side. In the short months since we seized that territory from the Beylerbey of Damascus the region's levies had only begun to recover, and the Sheikh waited nervously at the crossings with scarce a hundred men, most looking longingly back at their homes and families. I had the sense that if the Fatimid host had beaten us there they would have fallen all over themselves to yield to them and immediately set about steeling their spirits to stand no matter the odds.

Fortunately before my words were put to the test another column of reinforcements arrived, and then another. We were up above a hundred and twentyscore in number with several solid Catholic contingents to season our local levies, but still with no sign of the Hospitallers or Household when the host beneath the great dust cloud to the south finally came into view. The enemy were five and a half thousand strong under a proud Emir who placed his men into camp just across the river from us, with a view to beginning battle fresh with the morn. Perhaps he also sought to give our courage time to fail us, but instead we took the opportunity to raise our voices in prayer and call upon God to let his Will guide our hands in the morn. Not a man deserted. We ourselves were up before first light, arrayed in an axehead with a strong center under my personal leadership determined to hold the field while Sheikh Ibrahim and Gui led the weaker wings to screen our flank. The Fatimid Emir was hardly backward in coming forward, and by the first hour past sunrise we were locked in deadly battle. Initially we held well all along the banks of the river, the effects of the water and our own determination rendering it a mostly equal contest. We knew that a defeat here could not only mean defeat for the Crusade, but be a disaster for the Kingdom; and yet, though the center held strong each of the flanks was slowly driven back. I lost count of the number of Egyptians who fell at my hand, but was still peripherally aware that the battle was turning against us.


Never tell me the odds!

We fought like furies, and yet I still fear we may have been lost if not for the timely intervention of my Household; some one and a quarter thousand chevaliers, the flower of the Kingdom's knights. We heard the blast of a hunting horn, and I looked up from my duel with a valiant foe-man to see the whole weighty mass charging down the slope toward the flank of the enemy driving in Gui's right wing. My enemy was not without honour and gave me the space to return my attention to him before reengaging me. Though he went down in the fight that followed, I took steps to ensure that he was kept alive following his defeat and confined in the Tower of David until I had the leisure to speak with him. Though we were still outnumbered by the foe, we fought with a holy fury that soon saw the enemy break and rout, leaving the field heavy with their dead. More of our levies arrived by the end of the day, and we set off in pursuit the next day with a sizable advantage in numbers, shattering the last of them in lands still loyal to the Damascene Emir. Upon our return to Monreal however, we discovered that the machinations of the Infidel were not yet done with us - a second army of greater weight had invaded the Kingdom from the west while we were busy dealing with the first, and in the absence of any of Jerusalem's hosts were sieging a castle not far south of Jerusalem itself. I led our host - enriched by the presence of the Knights Hospitallers now - westwards and assailed the foe in the lands of Saint Abraham. Perhaps they had intended to take us from the rear while we fought with the Caliph's first army? If so they were too late, and though all defensive advantage of the rocky ground went to the invader the weight of our arms and fire of our courage soon saw us take the day, and once more we hunted down the remnants of the host that did not disperse into the desert. After the battle was over the whole army was abuzz with tales of my skill with the blade, and I now commanded the respect given an elite warrior of Christ. I had never before fought with such fervour or prowess; I wondered, could there be some truth to the 'Sword of God' of which the priests spoke? Not in the way I understood their meaning, but if I was truly but a weapon in His hand, then perhaps... With the second great infidel host destroyed, we passed at long last into Egypt on the twelfth of August and intercepted a sizable body of reinforcements sent to bolster the latter Fatimid force. They received word of that army's destruction too late to escape us, and we engaged them in the shadow of the castle of Arish, which we had taken once before.


At long last, the Crusade moves into the lands of the Enemy

As our levies took the castle under siege, a great fleet hove into view in the Sea of Palestine; mindful of the disaster of Meshtage seven years ago I rode with my Household down to the coast to get a better view, and we felt a wave of relief pass through us when the keen-eyed Lucien espied the great banner of the crossed keys of St Peter above the lead galley. The Papal armies had arrived in Egypt, His Holiness at their head. When we met at the beach I knelt for his blessing but he raised me up and kissed both my cheeks exuberantly, telling me that tales of our valour in Outremer had been heard in all the courts of Europe. With the Great Turk distracted by our efforts in the Holy Land, the Emperor of the Greeks had been able to begin the reconquest of Asia Minor, and after the Kingdom's campaigns against the unbeliever to the north and east he felt certain that we would soon be able to reduce the forces the Caliphate could call upon to defend the ways of their iniquity. He seemed further impressed when I told him that we had already made some progress in that endeavor, depriving the hateful boy-Caliph of some fourteen thousand of his slave-soldiers in our campaign through Judea and Idumea. We discussed matters late into the night, and in time he agreed to augment the detachment we were leaving behind to take the Fatimid strong points in the region under siege while I led the Kingdom's forces deeper into Egypt to seek out and destroy the enemies of God. I heard later that on the same day that we charged into the enemy host under the banner of Christ at Arish, my wife was crying out through her labour, giving birth to a beautiful baby girl we named for that banner's hue.


She takes after her mother

We rode deeper into the land once owned by Pharaoh, striking at smaller Fatimid armies as they dared to challenge us. I knew better than to give the Caliph time to recover his levies into a single great host, and kept our army in motion while separating detachment after detachment of the Kingdom army to siege the Fatimid holdings behind us. As I sat resting after yet another skirmish in the shadow of the Pyramids, my armoured feet cooling in the Nile, I reflected that on a campaign map our forces would be laid out much in the manner of my wife's prized pearl necklace; each siege a pearl on a slender and ever-lengthening string of our supply lines. The host at the end of the string had dwindled to less than 3 000 by the time we reached Bannasa, but we heard word of more crusader fleets arriving to join us at long last, bringing armies from Breifne, Gwynedd and the Kingdom of the Isles. For the most part they moved to eliminate small levy forces and then to join our sieges, allowing us to move forward and southward with confidence. While I was concerned about how lean the Kingdom's army was growing in this great sandy expanse, I felt that so long as we kept moving and kept the Boy-Caliph from massing against us we should be fine - and in time our armies would succeed in reducing the strongholds along our supply road, allowing us to liberate our way further up the Nile.


Taking God's Peace into Egypt on the points of our lances

I had no intention of stretching our forces still thinner until our sieges had borne fruit, but as our siegelines drew ever closer to the walls of Al-Bahnasa word arrived from one of Reybaud's eyes - a man I had not even been aware we had working for us in Upper Egypt! It seemed that despite our best efforts the Fatimids had begun to gather another host at Luxor, out of sight of our outriders, and was already nearing two thousands in strength. Once more the needs of Christ dictated the deeds of man, and I left the Knights Hospitaller to complete the siege, cut loose from our supply lines and led my Household and some levies of Jerusalem south along the banks of the river to engage in the penultimate battle of the Crusade, once more against a mightier foe. I speak of numbers only of course; the Caliph had some five hundred men on us, and as we prepared our attack I had an epiphany that filled me with martial zeal. We are all but tools in the hands of our God. If I am His sword, then I should go forward without fear and He will be my shield-brother, keeping me safe until it is my time to die. Singing a hymn of praise I led the charge into the foe, driving deep into their centre and cleaving the enemy army in twain. Even the defensive ground on which the Vizier drew up his men was not enough to halt us, and the battle rapidly became a devastating rout.


I am but a sword in the hands of the Lord

We pursued the broken enemy toward the Caliph's palace on the banks of the Red Sea, my brave knights dismounting to array our siege lines as the last of the foe fled within its walls, closing off any hope of escape or rescue, even by sea. Cut off from our supply roads we sent small bands of riders out into the land around us to gather food, supplies and above all wood; wood to construct mantlets and siege engines, as well as to fuel our fires in the deathly cold of the night. On the eighth day of our siege we were joined by a band of a dozen riders bearing with them the legacy of my thoughtlessness; I had always said that my sons would learn from me rather than being fobbed off by some well-meaning tutor among my court, and distracted by the pressures of the Crusade I had forgotten the approach of Edouard's sixth birthday. Now he had joined me in a warzone, in the heart of a hostile land ruled over by the boy-Caliph within the embattled Palace which we encircled - a boy scarce four years older than my eldest son. To say I was displeased by the risk my son's protectors had led him through would be to understate matters, but by this point it was a thing done and I felt he would be safer among my Household than risking bandits and hostile Fatimid remnants on the road back to Gizeh. I decided to make the best of it, and within a week had near forgotten why I dreaded the idea so much. My son was a brave young lad, and a pleasure to speak with. Over the next few weeks I taught him the rudiments of swordplay while the siege engines carried out their deadly work.

We were not the only ones in danger of course. By the time I heard about the fighting in the north it was already over; the Grand Headmaster of Saqaliba had led his fierce Shia warriors from a hilltop fortress overlooked in our great march toward Egypt's heart, and threatened to overwhelm our siege of Quzlum. Fortunately Grandmaster Hamelin had heard of their approach and rode hard to intercept them, joining the Kingdom's embattled levies before they could be overwhelmed and swiftly turning back the foreign-born fanatics. He set himself to chasing them back into their fortress and sealing it up behind them, that they could no longer maraud against our supply lines. In late May word reached me that the civil war in Damascus was finally over, and that the Turks were beginning to turn their eyes to the Kingdom, bereft of its protectors as we fought fiercely to liberate the Land of Moses. Energized by this, I ordered my Household to begin the assault and in the two bloody days that followed we managed to overcome the outer walls of the Palace. As our number - scarce half as many as had begun the siege - prepared themselves for the final push, a small figure appeared from the gates of the inner palace, accompanied by two mighty eunuch warriors. The Boy-Caliph al-Amir had come to surrender to the warriors of Christ, as his father had before him.

His Holiness called me back to Cairo as the great armies turned about and began to leave now-quiscient Egypt. My ride northwards was actually remarkably serene, with scarcely a scuffle with an overeager crocodile in defense of my steed to show for it. Egypt was tired of its perennial state of war, tired of being ground under the iron whim of the boy-Caliph and ready to fall back into the arms of a forgiving God. Or at least she was tired of fighting against ten thousand armoured warriors of Christ from around Catholic Europe, and inclined to keep her head down until they all went home! The towns and villages I rode through were not precisely welcoming for the most part, just limited to the odd glance of suppressed hostility. The exception was when we entered a town that actually boasted a low church, whose population were overjoyed to greet us. The locals seem to be of a Coptic branch of Christianity, but they greet us with the warmth given a long-lost cousin which is a sharp change from most of the locals we meet. Hopefully in time Egypt too will come more closely to Christ. Edouard had a wonderful time playing with the children of the village, his mop of fair hair shining among the dark hair most of the locals seem to sport. We had another amazing surprise upon our return to Cairo; it seemed Cecile had not lost any time, and the moment the war was declared over she had made the journey to Cairo to meet me. Holding her in my arms felt much like coming home again, and I was glad that at long last the land of Moses was liberated from the evil hand of Mahommet's children. I met with His Holiness in private the next day, and after some discussion he came to the point; the Kingdom's glorious exploits in liberating Egypt mean that he wishes to offer its rulership to me... or else, to a member of my court. Me? A King? I told him I would pray on the matter overnight and let him know my decision in the morning, then went to seek solitude in the ancient Hanging Church of Cairo. Even through the dark times of the Muslim occupation the priests of the Staircase Church had kept it consecrated and cared for, and at my request they were all too pleased to give me the privacy I sought before the altar. I kept a vigil on my knees well into the night, praying for God's guidance. Was it His will that I take this cup that His Voice on Earth proffered me? Or was it a test? Was not the stewardship of Christ's Kingdom enough for any moral man?


I prayed to the Lord for guidance

If I turned down His Holiness' offer would I be pleasing the Lord with my humility or defying the Plan he had laid out at my feet? I agonized on this matter for many hours, but the Lord did not respond. Finally I called on him for a sign, and He sent me Lady Cecile. "You seem troubled," she said. "Tell me what troubles you dear husband, for the hour is late and my bed lonely and cold."

I explained the conflict that boiled within me, and for a moment I thought a spark caught in her eyes but when I looked again it was gone.

She asked me, "Did His Holiness tell you why he was offering you this honour, my husband?"

"He did, he said I said that he had, and that it was due to my valour and the glorious service of the Kingdom in this war against the unbeliever; he said that we more than any other earthly body had ensured its success, and to that end it was God's will that we decide the fate of this Kingdom. That I decide," I sighed.

"And do you think he meant, that God means for you to decide its fate just in this one decision," she asked, her brows arched high in astonishment. "I have ever known that I am less close to God than you and certainly than His Holiness, yet it seems to me that God's will in this matter is clear. He has delivered one of the two great enemies of the Kingdom of Jerusalem into your hands that you may lean on the one in dealing with the other. And after you are at last called to Christ? Why my husband, you have two sons, and are offered a second kingdom. Is it not a sign that Edouard and Pierre are to stand back to back against the infidel after your time as God's steward is done?"

I considered her words for a long moment, then nodded my thanks and told her I would think on them as I held my vigil until the morning. She left with a smile, sparing a concerned look for me where I knelt when she thought I could no longer see her. I may have been mistaken in telling her that my knees troubled me most mornings for a few years now, for she was always plaguing me to take care of them particularly when the weather turned cold. It was true what she said however; if I was God's sword, then there was no pride or vainglory in following His plan for me. Scarce eight years and as many days since the Kingdom of Jerusalem was secured and the great Fatimid threat was destroyed leaving but a minor rump state between us and the Christians of Abyssinia. Could it be but by God's hand? Perhaps we might see the great plague of infidels dealt with within my lifetime, so long as we trusted in the Lord and did not meddle with His plans.

I knew what I would say to His Holiness, come the morn.


Right, who's next?

I don't have this mod, so may I ask, what are the huge black provinces in the middle east for?
Noone lived in Syrian Desert (or inner Sinai, or Rub al-Khali etc), so its way more plausible to live them blank rather then invent provinces and holdings.

What he said - I thought they were impassable too, but that proved not the case in the Crusade when 5 500 Fatimids appeared on my border with Damascus. On the other hand that's probably not unlike how a historical Crusader state would have discovered the deserts didn't bar large-scale military movement, so I'm not hugely embarassed!

will you actually gavelkind you kingdoms away or will you blob?

Most likely gavelkind. It's a nice idea (in Godefroy's mind) for his two sons to each have Kingdoms to guard for the glory of God, fighting back to back against the forces of the infidel; and it'd be wildly out of character (in my mind) for him to take steps to disinherit one in favour of the other. The only 'maybe' in the mix is if Edouard and Pierre wind up hating one another and one has the other murdered before he can have children but I'll take no steps to make that more likely to happen. Honestly I'm just hoping that Godefroy survives long enough that his sons don't need a regency!

Now you have twice as many hostile and foreign lands filled with infidels to rule over! Hooray... I guess...

...yeah, I can hear the rumbling of a Jihad on the horizon already. I would have said 'one or more' but the Shia are in a sorry state just now. I think we can certainly expect some kind of religious revolt though, at least unless the Court Chaplain starts becoming a little more effective in his conversions.
My goodness: epic conquest of Egypt-Deus Vult!!!
No new chapter today I'm afraid; I had caught up to my gameplay once more and set about playing out a few more years ahead.

We should be good for another 2 chapters though, on Sunday and Monday respectively. If I get a chance to play some more in that time we'll see if we can get back to our regular daily updates.
V: From Triumph to Tragedy​

We are laying the foundations for a Kingdom, which we hope may outlast the pyramids.
-C. Cushing​


Misrian Crusade

The Misrian Crusaders had stood shoulder to shoulder with faith undimmed against numbers beyond counting, and had taken our prize after a string of increasingly decisive battles. Yet now the Crusaders were going home, and I was left with the remainder; with a Kingdom entire, every title and place of leadership stripped from the unbelievers who held them under the Young Caliph and placed into my hands. What did I know of the judgments required between a fish merchant and a palm-oil salesman in Aswan? Or the points of theological difference between an Orthodox and a Miaphysite priest from Selima? I knew that the both of them were adjudged heretic for the most part, although they had but strayed from the true path to God and were still our brothers in Christ, but either matter was more appropriately a full-time occupation and I had fourscore coming to me a day. Even had Reynaud not cautioned me against keeping too much of the realm's power in my own hands, there was no chance that I could tend to them all appropriately even an' I wished it. And yet, I could not simply stamp my foot and make able, faithful, loyal crusader lords appear from the ground. There were threefold as many territories in need of rulers than I had members of my court - including my wife, our children and a number of noble prisoners. I sent out missives to France, to Antioch, to Acre - and also to Navarre, seeking men of vigor, faith and determination. While the matters continued to amass at my doorstep I sent the bulk of the levies back home to their families and gave that the Knights of St John Hospitaller should take the Barony of Rashid in the Nile Delta for their loyal service. I was mindful that I intended my own second son Pierre's royal seat to be nearby there, so the presence of a Holy Order's keep nearby should help to ensure a swift response in the case of any Mohommedan uprising against him.

I heard afterwards that Duke Tancred was particularly irate at the response when my messengers arrived at Acre, seeking Franks of courtly rank who sought a chance to advance themselves beyond their mundane day-to-day existences for great reward. When they left his court was denuded, his entire Council journeying into Egypt at my call - but I knew naught of that, I had my own concerns in Cairo where I found the Pope had decreed that I should henceforth be known as 'the Holy'. Godefroy the Holy, Princeps of the Kingdom of Jerusalem; what a mouthful! The night before the Papal army was to leave for the coast his Holiness offered me confession and I was not loath to take it. I spoke of my concerns of pride against false modesty, of my fear that in attempting to set the affairs of two Kingdoms in lieu of some great King or Priest, a humble man such as myself was flirting with outrageous vainglory and doomed to let down his people and his God. Pope Marcellus soothed me and reminded me of the good work I was doing in stewarding the Kingdom of Jerusalem since our arrival there, in keeping its people safe and pushing back the borders to bring God's Light into the darkness. Would God have rewarded me with victory were we not doing His will here in Egypt? And to aid me in doing God's work here after my fellow Crusaders had left - once again - he had a gift for me, from Mother Church. He opened the lid of a small chest, leaving me agog at the sheer weight of gold therein.


His Holiness contributes the start-up costs - with a 400% markup on what I was expecting

He named me as Godefroy the Holy for my services rendered unto the Almighty and my Godly ways, and said that the wealth gifted was because he knew that I would not use it to raise myself to new prideful heights but rather to ensure that the roots of our shared Catholic faith should grow deep in this arid land of infidels and heretics. It was quite an unusual gathering in Cairo after the Papal Fleet left, to be replaced with a trio of vessels from France and the Kingdom. Although rumour had run fierce since my messengers had gone out into the world, many of the men gathered before me in the open foyer could scarce believe me when I told them I intended to enoble and give title to every man there. Was I not intent in enriching my own dynasty with gifts of land to the most powerful families of Europe? After all, they were nobodies before I came to them. I explained that I was determined that these new Kingdoms of Christ in the Outreme not become beholden to the great landowners as in France, and that each man should be the steward of such lands as he could care for and manage himself, for the greater glory of God. As to being nobodies, they were exactly as God had made them and He loved them then as He did now. The new bishops - perhaps better briefed - had brought two stout monks apiece to ward them as they set about setting up their diocese, but some of the new nobility of Egypt had not so much as brought a sword! I saw to that lack being remedied at least, and then saw to it that each man was given his proper warrant and directions to his new place in the world. As the room emptied I made my way to the window and looked out across the seas, lost in contemplation when I felt a gentle pressure against my legs and looked down.

"Juba," I cried, for it was he. Across the room stood a familiar figure; older now perhaps, but it was still my friend Fortun of Navarre staring at me as though I had sprouted horns or a third eye. "I knew who it was that sent the messengers out, and when one of them came direct to my store I wondered if perhaps my old friend Godfrey had directed him there, but now, can it be true? Are you truly the King of Jerusalem?"

I winced and shook my head, "Nay, good Fortun. It is Christ who is King of Jerusalem, I am but his humble steward as now I appear to be for Egypt as well. But I am the same man you once knew as Godfrey the Pilgrim. Tell me, how have you been? How is your wife, your family?"

He stared at me a moment longer, comparing me to his inner vision of a man in his pilgrim's robes and finally his face broke into a small smile. "Well enough. My young daughters were dead of the flu when we returned home and I threw myself into my work for a time. When I surfaced I found myself quite wealthy, although somewhat lacking in ambition. My wife and sons are well also. How fare Gui, and Josselin?"

It was my turn for my features to cloud, shaking my head wryly. "Gui is well enough, though growing older. I have granted him title to Asyut-on-the-Nile for his service both before and during the Crusade... and, I confess, his long friendship with me. Josselin is with God now, murdered by a woman who was no true wife to him. But that is enough of dark talk for now; you are a clever man, and I daresay you have guessed why I called you here."

"Not so much when I thought you was my friend the knight and not my friend the Princeps, but I daresay I have a notion now." He shook his head, clearly amused and flattered. "I fear you have the wrong man - I am but a humble - if now somewhat successful - merchant, what know I of the business of rulership?"

"If I intended to name you a count, you may have a point," I noted. "Yet I seem to recall a man somewhere in the high country of Greece talking about the great merchant republics of Venice and Genoa, telling me what he would do were he in their shoes. Do you know where I might find that man?"

His head came up, eyes alight.


Doge Fortun of the Maritime Republic of Iskandariya

Some among the clergy have questioned my decision not to name Iskandariya a Prince-Bishopric since it contains some of the holiest sites of our faith; yet I said to them as I did the first Patriarch of Jerusalem when he asked the same of me. I would not permit that another of the Patriarchs and Lords Spiritual of the Roman Catholic Church be raised to become also a Lord Temporal and risk having his attention turned from the Godly to worldly ambition and choose perhaps to one day set himself in opposition to His Holiness. We had enough division in the Church already with the Emperor of the Germans having named himself a false pope in Lusignan. My own pious reputation served me well with the false pope and the true; both sent me letters of praise for my godly works, although I made my own position and loyalties clear. There was only one true pope, and he ruled in the see of St Peter.

There was one more matter to put into place before I could leave for Jerusalem, and though it tore at my heart to do so yet it was unavoidable. I had named my younger son the Prince of Egypt and I knew that to ensure his acceptance when the time came for him to sit the throne he must reign within that Kingdom until such time as he was able to rule. I had set aside a plot of some seven counties from the royal seat in Cairo up into the Nile delta, encompassing some of the richest territories that land had to offer. He held more than half the counties in each Duchy I named him to, and he nodded in solemn understanding when I explained his important future there, and his responsibility to one day bring his people closer to Christ while fighting alongside his brother Edouard. I placed him in the charge of an older Crusader from Provence well known for his honesty and his humility and then turned at last to ride north into the Kingdom, leaving the three-year-old Prince of Egypt in his new domain.


Beginning of the First Sunni Revolt

The beginnings of what is now called the Great Sunni Revolt were as small as they were important. With the addition of a third Cardinal from the Kingdom to the College, Cardinal Guischard was now Preferati to replaced the maimed Pope Marcellus II upon his death and he seemed to take it as a personal affront that most of the population within the bounds of Jerusalem were as yet still slaves to the Mohommedan faith. He was out there every day preaching in the marketplaces until at length a radical Imam rose to speak against him; Akab the Scholar. I heard that the two spoke against one another for hours until at last Guischard pronounced that Akab would burn in the fires of hell unless he turned at once from his cult toward the one true God. At that point one of the onlookers took matters into his own hands and hurled a rock at the Cardinal, who soon fled bleeding beneath a barrage of stones. The growing mob of fanatics looted and sacked the marketplace, taking the Tower of David under siege as well as Naplus. I heard of this matter as I rode north through Ascalon, and many of my most experienced sergeants advised that I recall the levies on their journeys home to face these rebels with the full forces at my command.

I simply shook my head, growing weary of the unending struggle against the hapless fools. Must a godly man ever turn the other cheek against such venom and hate? I reinforced my direction for all the levies to return home and gathered my veteran household knights and the Hospitallers to me instead. We finally confronted the massed rebels on the plain of Rimmon south of Jerusalem, and though they were close to fifteen hundred men the greater we scarcely paused to deploy our lines far less to treat with them. They were enemies of the God we fought for, and four thousand raging fanatics were no match for fully two and a half thousand armoured knights at a full charge. The 'Great Sunni Revolt' ended that evening with the execution of Akab the Scholar amid the bodies of his closest followers and we rode into Jerusalem the next day, tired but victorious.

The next two months were time well-spent. I tutored Edouard both the business of rulership and also in the greater swordplay that all too often was required to keep it. At this point he was the equal of many of the trained soldiery that made up Jerusalem's levy and I believe he kept up his training with them when I was buried under the weight of duties unaddressed in our time in Egypt, taking a delight in surprising me with new tricks I hadn't been aware he was learning. He scored a touch on occasion, and once managed to pull me out of position farther than either of us expected, nicking my arm on his blade. He was full of shock and apology at first, but I laughed and reassured him that I would live; that he was becoming a man now and that it was time for his first wine. By the time he finished his cup the bleeding had stopped and I allowed him to bind the wound as the Hospitallers insist to prevent infection. Nine days later we received a letter from Constantinople.


We ride against Damascus

The Emperor of the Greeks was fighting against the Sultan of Rum once again for an area of central Anatolia, and he had received word that the Beylerbeys of Qinnasrin and Damascus were marching to aid their Sunni brother along with the forces of the Great Turk. While we had no formal alliance, might we consider supporting his campaign? It was true that we had no alliance, but I had learnt previously the cost of leaving our distant cousins in Christ to fight the Great Enemy alone. We would ride; I called up the levies from the Two Kingdoms to secure Outrejordain and give the Beylerbeys a threat closer to come they could not ignore, and rode out ahead with my Household and the levies of Jerusalem itself. Supported by levies from Monreal and Naplus we defeated the great army of Damascus at the Battle of Daran, and rode on to intercept a second column returning from the north. By the time the first levies from Egypt arrived the war was all but over as we sieged most of the Beylerbey's holdings at once.

Word from the north suggested that the Greeks were doing equally well as the Seljuk was forced to turn about and deal with a revolt in his own lands and the armies of Damascus had mysteriously not made an appearance. Strange, to be sure! Qinnasrin's main column went down in the mountains near Ankara on 9 May, and Beylerbey Radwan was taken captive by the Emperor. I wrote to him at once, requesting that he be transferred to my custody but by the time the message arrived his eyes had been put out with a hot poker that he may never again look avariciously on the lands that belong to the Greeks, and he turned loose to return to his men. As the war in Outrejordain continued to be a steady progression of sieges I found I had more and more time to tend to other affairs from the field. Cardinal Guischard was attacked once again in Jerusalem, though this time the city guard was on hand and put down the violence swiftly and bloodily. I sent him a message asking if he thought perhaps there might be more fertile ground for his words in Naplus, but he insisted that he would persist and not be ashamed to face his martyrdom in Christ's city if it be God's will that he do so.


Once more I find myself alone on the battlefield

As the campaign took us north and closer to Qinnasrin I again found my nights plagued with the feverdream sent to me by God in times before. I on the battlefield, becoming exhausted and alone as my companions dwindled around me until at last I stood alone as yet another wave of furious infidels broke around me. It always seemed to strike as I came closer to my enemy, though I had yet to come sword to sword with him. Regardless my sleep-starved state actually served me well - we rarely faced a foe worthy of the fighting and none that challenged me. In the evening I reviewed reports from Reynaud and Onfroy about affairs within and without the borders of the Two Kingdoms. It seemed the boy-Caliph was already plotting to reclaim his lost lands from my son despite his own holding being reduced to a single county in Aydhab. He was also not to be found in palace or city; it seemed he was hidden in the countryside for fear of the Hashashin. The sins of the Fatimids were truly coming to rest, fortune's wheel turned to place the once-mighty at the mercy of those he once oppressed, the mighty Catholic kingdom of Egypt to his north and the Sultanate of Beja and the Abyssinian Empire alike to his south.

Curiously I also found myself receiving word and tithes from northern Italy, as some of my vassals had inherited lands in that area following the death of the senior branch of their families. Happily they were surrounded by good Catholic states so we were unlikely to be drawn into war there while we were occupied with affairs in the Holy Land. It was close to the end of the year when we heard word from the Greeks that their campaign was ending successfully in against all the forces the infidel could muster against them. With that news we decided to accept the Beylerbey's surrender when it came, securing the eastern borders of the Kingdom and swearing two more vassals to loyalty. Once more the levies were sent back to their homes, our new Egyptian soldiery flush with victory in the name of the Lord while we had all the nobles of two kingdoms to Jerusalem in a great feast. It was a fantastic gathering of old friends and new alike, giving a real sense of community to those who were almost alone among a people that shared neither language, culture nor belief. And it was there that I set eyes on Stephanie.


My Lady's favourite young lady in waiting

Stephanie was Lady Cecile's favourite at court since her husband's tragic passing when she was only sixteen. I had heard of her more than once in my wife's letters, quoting some great witticism or praising her sweet nature, but when I saw her for the first time I was struck both by her great beauty and that she seemed greatly taken with me. Indeed, the young Normaund maid seemed scarce capable of looking any other way and later accosted me in the corridor leading from the dining hall to our mutual discomfort. I let her down as gently as I could, explaining that I was a married man thrice her age and that what she proposed was a sin against both God and man. She coloured and fled from me, and I knew that something must be done. The next month and a half was moderately awkward for us both and my wife and I both heaved sighs of relief when at last she left to wed my friend's old liege, the Don of Viscaya. As I explained to my Lady the poor child had scarce experienced the joys of matrimony when her husband passed from this life; it was no wonder that she sought such again and I was only glad that we had been able to ensure the same would be within a marriage blessed by the Church rather than being condemned by it.

A number of my courtiers spoke to me later that week expressing their concern at the risks I took with my life and I explained simply that my faith in God taught me to feel as safe in battle as in bed. God had fixed the time for my death and I did not concern myself with that save to be always ready, no matter when it may overtake me. Provided I devoted myself to His service, I was pleased and blessed to serve as His sword against the unbeliever and need have no fear for my self. They seemed somewhat uncertain how to take that and withdrew in confusion, but in truth it did seem that God's blessing lay across our land; a time of peace and growth had begun within the bounds of the Two Kingdoms, while outside the lands of the infidels were wracked by war both civil and not. There was a civil war in Persia that led the levies of Damascus away, while the boy-Caliph declared war briefly against French Tripoli before reluctantly conceding days later that he had no means to get there. My son Edouard continued mastering the art of swordmanship, though he seemed increasingly bored with life. I spoke to him at length to help him find his drive in the service of God.

Early in 1111 Beylerbey Radwan attacked his Damascene brother for a section of territory facing along the border of Galilee. Mounted patrols shadowed the vying levies along our border, but neither side seemed interested in violating the fiercely guarded territory of the Kingdom and provoking a response. This was fortunate for Reybaud had brought word that the boy-Caliph's own spy master, one Nuraddin, was plotting against my younger son, Pierre. His aging regent was a fierce warrior to be sure but one of the qualifications that made him perfect for the role was a complete ignorance of all forms of intrigue. I myself knew enough to be wary of plots without sullying my hands with them, but Reybaud was the true master and he said there was a danger that should Nuraddin succeed, the boy-Caliph might manage to set my son's vassals against him. I spoke with my wife at length and she agreed to serve as regent while I was protecting our son's interests; then I led my household knights west and south into Egypt along the Nile. We were in Qus when news of a tragedy at home caught up with us.


Lady Cecile, mother of my children, is at rest in God's embrace
Well, now you can get a younger wife! :p

HIP <3

It's definitely a fun mod.

While Godefroy never actually fell in love with his wife, neither is he overly lustful and I can't see him turning around straight away and remarrying now he's done his duty to his dynasty. Besides which, well... you'll see!

Entertainingly as of 'now' (at the end of the next chapter) the Shia branch of Islam is somewhere below Zoroastrianism on the religion table, which I give Godefroy a fair measure of credit for.
I need to read more of this, having just skimmed the chapter before the newest.

I definitely need to read more of this. Very well written, very well narrated. Thank you for writing it!

Edit: Subbed!
Let the enemies of Christ tremble!
Sad to see Queen Cecile go, after all the support she's rendered Godfrey in the past. On the other hand, meeting Fortun again was quite a nice touch :)

Here's to hoping you can keep the Syrian marches secure against the Turks!
VI: A Mighty Fortress​

A mighty fortress is our God, a bulwark never failing; our helper he amid the flood of mortal ills prevailing.
-Martin Luther​


Tomb of Lady Cecile d'Hautville

Lady Cecile was dead. The thought kept hammering in my mind as, grief-stricken, I led my household knights into Aydhab in May 1111, and though my mind was anywhere but on my surroundings the boy-Caliph missed his chance to ambush us; or, more-like, was too afraid to try. His forces were scarce enough to challenge us, and when they did stand on the plains before his palace we lost a mere six men in overcoming then. I own that I lost myself in combat that day, enjoying the respite from the gloom of my thoughts. I felt that I had become chaste, that I would neither have nor need another woman in my life after I had lost Cecile. After all, had I not my brave sons Edouard and Pierre to come after me? Had I not sweet Blanche to brighten and beautify my life? Yet the thought of returning home to David's Tower without my Lady haunted me and I knew that I should never return to the earthly Jerusalem again in this life.

With the fall of his last citadel and at the age of 15, al-Amir ibn al-Mustali, the Shia Caliph, signed away the last of his father's lands and passed into exile at the Sunni court of Damman on the Persian Gulf. My son's legacy was safe at last from the scheming of the infidel, or so I thought. It transpired that the Caliph had been at war with another of his depraved kind of the other branch of his religion, the Sultanate of Beja who laid claim to his lands. With the submission of Aydhab to the Kingdom of Egypt, his greed was added to the natural vitriol of the unbeliever and led him to blind himself to the truth. He promptly began to war on us also, and I led my household ever farther up the Nile, beyond the borders of the old Roman Empire. My last directive given to those who stewarded Jerusalem in my absence was to erect a new keep as an annexe to David's Tower; the Cecile Tower. I was told afterwards that the foundation stone was laid on the first of December, but I was occupied with more exotic matters as we came upon a shrine upon the heights looking down on Halaib.


Shrine of St Tesfaye of Sennar

The shrine was wrought of polished alabaster and untreated wood and appeared to be in honour of a local saint of the Coptic church, and one of which I had not before heard; one St Tesfaye of Sennar. If I understood the engravings around the altar correctly, the saint was known around these parts for consuming prodigious amounts of a local liquor and saving some kind of rustic town from a pack of carnivorous baboons, casting each of these savage beasts off a cliff to its death. An unusual kind of saint, but who can be surprised by what these heretics do, even with the best of intentions? In any case he seemed to have a commendable martial spirit and so we knelt in prayer there before proceeding on our way to deal with the men of Beja. As before the infidels were filled with great zeal, but not much in the way of military training or experience. Our armour was a sweltering pain in the boiling desert, but was well worth the discomfort for the looks of dismay on the faces of our foe as the sighted a wave of unstoppable metal juggernauts bearing down upon them lances to the fore. To give the enemy commander credit, he at least attempted to form a spear-line to ward us away, but the spirits of the local foot flagged when they saw us coming and they spilled away in disorder. Perhaps St Tesfaye was with us that day!

Word came from Jerusalem that there had been another great uprising of thousands of Sunni in Jaffa, partly in response to the growing rate of conversion within the Two Kingdoms. In my absence my council had raised the Jerusalem levies and called on Grandmaster Hamelin to lead them with his own knights to crush the revolt; unfortunately what none of us could have anticipated was that the Imam leading the revolt would throw in with the Bejan Sultanate. My household was easily superior to the remaining forces in the Sultanate, but that didn't mean we were ready to face an additional five thousand unbelievers from our own kingdom descending on us from behind. The Kingdom's force pursued the revolt steadily, and in the time we had before they arrived we sought out such local allies as we could. While we had our disagreements with our wayward cousins, neither of us wanted to see the Mohommedan reestablish himself as a power in the region.


The Christian Emperor of Abyssinia

Foremost among these powers was Negus Kedus Harbe, the Emperor of Abyssinia. An older man now, yet he was still a lusty one and seemed proud of his young wife and her fertility - they had four young daughters and but a single yearling boy to succeed him. I talked to him about Christ and about some of the differences between our churches and I compared some of our Saints (St Thomas and St Christopher) with their own St Tesfaye. I asked if they had any other saints similar to him and he remarked in a dry tone that there was no one like St Tesfaye. I wasn't sure what to make of that, but he seemed pleased and offered me a contingent of men from the Saint's own hometown, men of 'remarked-upon' prowess on the battlefield, as he put it. I wasn't certain that was the same thing as 'remarkable' prowess but put it down to confusion from the language barrier at the time. We signed a treaty of friendship and I went upon my way.

The hundred and forty men who arrived at the designated meeting place a week later looked nothing so much as goat herders rather than the champion warriors I had expected. I was mindful that some holy orders make a point of concealing their martial abilities behind an innocuous guise, but if that was the case here it was the finest guise I could imagine. Still they seemed confident enough and had brought with them a cartload of supplies for the victory celebration they seemed certain they would have. I shrugged and put them into a position where they could show us what they could do but if they proved unreliable it would not put my own household in danger. Unreliable! The men of Sennar drank mightily of their strangely shaped bottles of local liquor the night before the battle, and come morning were dead to the world with their snoring forms reeking of this 'Tej'. As it transpired my own household knights were more than capable enough to handle the rebels after their long desert march without any help from the so-called 'champions of Sennar'; they were awake and very ready to help when it came to the looting though, and even the most sinful of my own men swiftly drew off, taken aback by the enthusiasm with which they pursued it. The few scattered survivors retired to the north and ran headlong into the army that had followed them all the way from Jaffa. We had successfully defended the lands we had taken from the last Shia Caliph and were at peace once more.

On the long ride back Eduard and I continued his training in matters of the sword and state, with him soon becoming quite gifted at both. We stopped in Gizeh where Pierre had made his court and consoled him on the death of his mother. I encountered one of Reybaud's eyes there as well and he told me about a few of the local nobles who had been pressuring the lad and conspiring behind his back. I visited with each of them on the second day, and at my blunt question as to whether they wanted to fight me, each of them backed down and pledged to return the lands, titles and dignities owed the future King of Egypt. Returning to the Holy City I camped outside the west gate and conducted my business by the Lower Pool of Gihon, mindful of my pledge. The most critical matters of state, including a betrothal for Edouard, kept me there until October of 1113 until at long last I could take the course I had longed for for a decade and declared Holy War upon the Beylerbey of Qinnasrin, the man who had slain my brother in single combat. I gave the order to raise the levies from across the Twin Kingdoms and direct them to secure Bekan - our pretext for the war - while I led my Household and the levies of Jerusalem itself deep into Qinnasrin with but a single objective.


Battle of Hama - Radwan of Qinnasrin was not there

Riding north into Qinnasrin I received the familiar warning; my dreams filled with visions of blood and death. But this time they bothered me less, indeed I embraced them. My view of the world narrowed into a single path to where Reybaud's eyes assured me my enemy would be found, leading an army in Harran. My one ally in this conflict since the passing of Lady Cecile was my brother's powerful County of Edessa, but it lacked the resources to fight against Qinnasrin alone. Unless I could cut break past the Beylerbey's southern host swiftly, they would go down and allow Radwan to focus all his forces to the south, on his own survival. At Hama my heavily armed and armoured body of companions did what it has done all too many times in recent years and destroyed a greater host utterly. I myself was filled with that same holy rage that took me in the Misrian Crusade and carved a bloody path through the ranks of the infidel so that my closest companions could scarce keep up with me. In the absence of the Beylerbey I chose not to waste my time in pursuit of the broken remnants and instead rode hard north for where the Edessan army was closely embattled by forces four times its strength and giving good account of themselves.

Our arrival was like a thunderbolt, abruptly reversing the battle's flow as my knights and I massed into one wedge and shattered my enemy's right flank. I fought in a red mist, my years dropping away from me as I shouted for him to face me. All in all we fought there four hours, and in the end our victory was decisive. Parts of the force were forced back into the keep of Qala'at-al-halab, while reliable reports had Radwan at the head of under four hundred men fleeing westwards. Leaving the levies with their foot to siege his ruling seat I took my knights and rode hard after him, bringing the force to bay and annihilating it. Not one unbeliever left that fight to challenge us again, and yet, my brother's killer was not there. Reliable reports now had him defending his keep against my host there and I retraced our steps to bring my knights to join the levies drawing ever more closely to his walls. On the fourth day after our arrival we assaulted the city and stormed it; and yet, again, he was not there. Finally I had word from an incontrovertible source that he was raising troops to the east, in Manbij and rode over there in a mood of grim determination that he should not escape me again.

This time he was there, and we hit his guard with overwhelming force, sweeping in around him so that he could not escape me again. Though blind he was still armed, holding his sword in an awkward defensive guard as I closed in - and for the first time I saw him, the great enemy whose death I had sought for so long. He was teak of skin as so many of these unbelievers are, yet he was not the man of mighty thews I had imagined. He was lean and weakened by his time in prison, and there were burns on his cheeks around his empty sockets. Was this the man I was determined to have my revenge upon? He waved his blade around again, then became suddenly aware by the silence that the fight was over. Some subtle sense whispered in his ear and he looked toward me, lowering his blade as he spoke in harshly accented Frankish. "Have you come to kill me, Frank?" I did not answer, and after a minute he spoke up again. "We have all heard of the vengeance your King is determined to wreak upon all our kind, and me especially. Do you intend to torment me with silence? Alas I fear the Roman Emperor has beaten you to it."

"No," I answered at last. "I see no need for further torment. The Lord says that vengeance is His, and I see now that He has taken enough from you. I will accept your surrender and return to Bekan, which is ours." I wiped clean my blade and slid it into its sheath, then turned back to rejoin the main army.

The fighting in Qinnasrin was over.


I began to question my nature

With the release of the levies I returned to the Kingdom with my elder son, patrolling with small bands of knights along the eastern border against raiders who might disturb our peace. With the exception of the first Fatimid invasion Christ's Kingdom had never fallen under invasion from without in my time as its steward. Clearly even the most hateful unbeliever regarded us with respect and no small measure of fear, save possibly for the Great Turk - and Mayor Onfroy had long been resident at his court to ensure that his eyes stayed turned away from us while we dealt with the old Caliph and his son. I began to doubt myself again, to ask if I was truly doing God's work as He would have it? When I insisted on going north against Qinnasrin despite all the warnings God had placed before me, in the end He let me and I very nearly veered from the path into error. It was only when I saw the wreck of a man that I recognized that God had already taken His vengeance upon him, and there was no need of me there; we had gone to war with him for nothing, for all our territorial gains.

Was Christ a military leader in his time upon the Earth? Was he known for his series of aggressive campaigns against the Romans, in freeing His earthly homeland from their yoke of conquest? No, He fought for men's souls and left the question of territory to more material men, lesser men without His divine nature. Perhaps that was the answer - not to war endlessly against anyone who would stand against us as we carried Christ's banner deep into the desert, but to ensure that the Twin Kingdoms were safeand secure against any threat that might one day rear up its head. In the company of my men and I for so long, Edouard began to act shy around strangers and I spoke to him at length of my time in Rome encountering foreigners and foreign cultures - then sent him to Jerusalem, where the Tour de Cecile was at last complete. When he returned he told me of its elegant flowing lines, and the main fireplace with his mother's arms hanging over it, while her face was engraved in the stonework on each corner of the mantlepiece. He also spoke of the friends he had made in his short visit there and the lessons learned from the priests and I knew that his habit of shyness had been broken for good.


The abortive Sunni Jihad for Sicily

At length the Jihad we had dreaded so long came, but it was somewhat poorly targeted. I can only assume the the Sunni Caliph had never seen the area on a map, for all the myriad mighty states he roused were east of us and yet he declared war on a state halfway across Europe. Any lingering concern was allayed as my son and I looked over reports over the map table in my tent and we recognized that every port in the Eastern Mediterranean was firmly in the hands of Christians of one stripe or another. To make matters worse, the Jihadi states had no ships, even on the wrong bodies of water. If they seriously intended to invade Sicily by land they would face a march that made the First Crusade look like a casual Sunday stroll, taking them through the heart of the resurgent Byzantine Empire, wartorn Poland-Hungary, through the Holy Roman Empire and ultimately past the gates of the Eternal City. Was I concerned? Not overly, and I was still less surprised when we heard a few months later that the Caliph had decided that his god did not require the conquest of Sicily after all.

An uneasy truce persisted in the Levant and I spent an increasing amount of my time away from my war camp seeking after hidden truths in the monastery at Latrun. My eldest son was humble, kind and good and spoke to me one day telling me how happy he was with his upbringing. I was pleased to hear it and very proud of him, though increasingly my thoughts went to my second son in Egypt. It had been years since we had seen one another, and though we often wrote to one another the hand of a scribe is a poor substitute for speech between a father and a son. I called my council out to the Pool of Gihon once more and addressed what concerns needed my personal hand. They asked me when I would return to Jerusalem myself, and I simply shook my head and traveled south into Egypt. I know not what prompted my visit then of all times, but as I would learn I was already too late.


My little boy is dead

The Prince of Egypt fell gravely ill with the coughing fever in late autumn and passed from this world on 30 November 1116 while I was still passing into Sinai. Some of the local lords had made noises about securing their independence, but my arrival put paid to any thought of revolt by Christian or Mohommedan alike. I blamed myself for not keeping a closer watch over his upbringing; I had done well with Edouard I felt, but I had neglected Pierre throughout his life. It was a month before I could be sure I was thinking clearly again and parceled my son's lands among new and talented men save for one; Cairo, which would be reserved for Edouard when it was his turn to rule. I sent an appropriate gift to His Holiness, and I hear that he presided personally over a memorial ceremony in the Holy See, commending the soul of my lost son to the Almighty.

Our Christmas celebrations that year were more muted and held in Cairo. I hadn't seen it until now, but there was a truth hidden within the vision gifted me so often by the Almighty. I had spent my life in battle against the enemies of God, and though we had defeated and despatched many a horde of them and the Kingdom stood unbroken and unbowed, who had I lost along the way? Many of my fellow crusaders had returned home after we seized the Holy Land scarce 18 years before. My brother Baudoin was slain fighting Radwan of Qinnasrin and my older brother Eustache inherited. He passed from this life poisoned by an unknown assassin. My comrades in arms Josselin and Gui were gone, though at least Gui lived yet in the extreme south of Christian Egypt. My wife, my younger boy, both gone to Heaven. When I looked around at my household knights now, some days I scarce recognized a one of them. And now when I left for Acre on an Iskandariyan vessel in late January I left Edouard behind as ruling Count of Cairo and future ruler of the twin Kingdoms. Would I see him again before the Lord deemed it my time? My experience to date in the Holy Land suggested not.


17 January 1117 - the rightful heir to the Twin Kingdoms comes of age
I need to read more of this, having just skimmed the chapter before the newest.

I definitely need to read more of this. Very well written, very well narrated. Thank you for writing it!

Edit: Subbed!

Thanks very much P5166661, I'm enjoying and following the Black Falcon saga as well. What is it about the Reach that tends to attract all the sneaky, devious conspirators?

Maybe the altitude? ;)

Hope your Joffrey does better than the original - and with any luck gets the opportunity to kick Littlefinger out the Moon Door personally.

Let the enemies of Christ tremble!

They seem to be! I'm a little stunned they aren't more intent on driving me out of the Holy Land, but Godfrey's personal reputation may have something to do with that. Possibly we'll see some renewed aggression when Edouard takes the throne... assuming he actually survives his father. The way things are going I wouldn't be at all surprised if Godfrey outlives them all!

Sad to see Queen Cecile go, after all the support she's rendered Godfrey in the past. On the other hand, meeting Fortun again was quite a nice touch :)

Here's to hoping you can keep the Syrian marches secure against the Turks!

I know I miss her already - and her ambition (unalloyed by humility) was very helpful when I was trying to justify a course of action for Godfrey, particularly in his initial expansion.

Meeting Fortun on the pilgrimage was just an interesting bit of colour, but when Godfrey and I suddenly found ourselves with 76+ holdings to divide up I knew I had to see about giving Fortun something. Ironically that means we have five Euskaran merchant families amid a collection of Frankish nobility in northern Egypt, and I'm certainly looking forward to seeing how that plays out over time.

Thanks for your support friends, I keep thinking when I'm taking notes 'Oh, they'll like this bit.' or 'Maybe I should tell them that, which might come up again...'

Slight tribute to everyone's favourite Abyssinian AAR this chapter; it's what got me into writing this, and since we found ourselves in that part of the world anyway...