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    Real Strategy Requires Cunning

Tapscott

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Hello everyone this is my first AAR. It will be looking at the custom made dynasty Clan Mac Gregor as they seek to make their fortune! There's not going to be any real set style, but I'll think I'll try to stick with a character driven story.



 
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loki100

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don't use the 'uploader' for this forum. That is really set up to allow uploads for tech/bug reports etc. Sign up to one of the mainly (near) free image hosting sites - imageshack and photobucket are popular but there are plenty of others. Put your images there and copy the urls onto this forum. Check out the FAQ - link is in my signature.
 

Tapscott

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don't use the 'uploader' for this forum. That is really set up to allow uploads for tech/bug reports etc. Sign up to one of the mainly (near) free image hosting sites - imageshack and photobucket are popular but there are plenty of others. Put your images there and copy the urls onto this forum. Check out the FAQ - link is in my signature.
Hey thanks for the help! Should be able to properly organize my photos from now on!

Umm... Does anyone know how to get rid of thumbnails?
 
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Tapscott

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The Lord of Argyll

2nd February 1074
The field was slick with rain and blood. Gregor, founder, head and sole member of clan Mac Gregor, looked around, daring any of the bodies that lay strewn around him to move. He was a giant of a man with fiery red hair and piercing blue eyes. As the red mist that had been clouding his vision blew away he began to hear one of his men calling out to him.

“Sir! Sir!” called a Scotsman caked in blood. As he jogged over to where Gregor stood he was silenty examined. It was clear that this wee lad, who, he guessed, couldn’t have been older than twenty years, had been in the thick of the battle. And, mused the Clan Chief, hadn’t been too clever at keeping his fingers out of harms way.

“Well? Speak soldier!”

“Sir, the day is yours! The men at Inverarary Castle have opened their gates to you! You’re now the lord of Argyll!

“That is clear to me fool!” growled Gregor, “There was never any doubt about my victory! You'd better have some useful information for me boy! I don't tolerate those who fail me or waste my time.”

Swallowing hard the soldier nodded, “Well sir, we uh, can’t find Gilla Brigte anywhere.”

“You what?!”

“He, uh, wasn’t in the castle sir. I, uh, the men think that he’s, um, run away.”

Snarling Gregor advanced on the unfortunate boy and picked him up by the neck with one of his shovel like hands. “How could you let that fool escape?! Don’t you realize that this puts everything I’ve worked for in jeopardy?! Why I should…” Gregor suddenly heard a sharp snap as the boy’s neck broke. “Pathetic”, he muttered dropping the now limp body.

Looking up he saw his captains staring at him from across the field. “Well?” Mac Gregor roared, “Organize the men, man the castle and prepare some ships! I think it’s time I introduced myself to the King of the Isles!”

Spitting on the ground, next to the body of his unlucky soldier, Gregor set off towards his new castle.


The cold fields of Inverarary
 
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good rather grim stuff ... very promising opening (though you think he'd be a wee bit more careful at preserving his manpower?)
As far as Gregor's concerned he's already won. Now he's just got make sure that the county's previous owner doesn't get the aid he's seeking.
 

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Islander Diplomacy

12th February 1074
As Gregor approached the throne room, in the castle of Innse Gall, he heard two voices hotly debating. Pausing he began to listen.

“I demand that you help me!” a shrill voice insisted “The man is a brute, I mean he would just as likely kill us than reason with us!”

“Yes, yes you have said this all before Gilla Brigte.” A bored voice yawned, “I am well aware of this clan chief’s strength and temper. I have nothing to fear, I am King of the Isles! I doubt even he is foolish enough to raise a hand to me in my own castle.” There was a pause “Well Gregor, what are you standing outside for? Come in!”

Gregor started back in surprise before frowning and marching into the throne room. Before him sat two men. One of whom he instantly recognized, the other he had merely heard about. The man who lounged on the throne had to be the ‘King of the Isles’, Gudrød Crovan, a Norseman of gargantuan proportions who was renowned for having a certain way with words. The other man was none other than Gilla Brigte Aiergaidil the supposedly rightful Count of Argyll. Just looking at him caused Gregor’s heart to race and his fists to clench.

“Well Gregor? Sit!” The doughty Norwegian said imperiously.

Gregor slowly sat down, while not taking his eyes off Gilla Brigte. “Ahem. Gregor. Look at me.” Gregor Mac Gregor slowly broke eye contact with his hated rival and looked at the King. “Well that’s much better Gregor. I’m so glad to see that you can respect authority, unlike some men here.” The former Count squirmed in his seat as Gudrød glanced at him. “…Now Gregor I have no use for men who do not know their place. If I decide to recognize your claim will-”

“What?!” screamed Gilla Brigte suddenly, “You can’t side with him! He’s the enemy! He’ll kill me! He’ll kill you too! Don’t you see it? He’s turning you against me! I’m the rightful count of Argyll! The people look to me for guidance and leadership! Not him!”

“Gilla Brigte Aiergaidil, if you interrupt me again I’ll have you executed.” said Gudrød coldly, “You lost Argyll due to your own incompetence. If you had been more careful in whom you aggravated the peasants wouldn’t have rallied around Gregor’s banner in the first place! Now BE QUIET!”

Cowed Gilla Brigte shrank into his seat, all the while glaring at the amused Gregor. “Now where were we? Ah yes. If I do decide to recognize your claim will you swear fealty to me as your king? Remember that if you don’t then I’ll have no choice but to protect the rights of my vassal and the men of the Isles will be called to fight for me.”

Gregor paused taking the moment to smile at the angry and frightened Gilla Brigte. “I will indeed acknowledge you as my liege Gudrød. If I didn’t want to I would have turned to the King of the Scots to protect me.”

“That man is a spineless worm Gregor. Do not mention him around me again. There is only one King of the Isles remember.”

“Very well. It does pain me to turn my back on my fellow Scots though Norseman. If you give me your sister’s, Helga, hand in marriage then I will indeed support you as the one and only King of the Isles.”

All was silent in the chamber as the King and the impudent Scotsman stared at each other. With a curt nod Gudrød showed his acceptance.

“WHAT?! NO! HE’S THE DEVIL IN DISGUISE! HE WILL BRING RUIN TO US ALL!” shrieked the recently deposed count.

With a nod from King Gudrød, Gregor stood and closed the gap between himself and the raving Gilla Brigte. He picked up the still screaming man and brought him down heavily on his waiting knee. A sharp crack and the sudden limpness of the former count told both the King and the new count that Gilla Brigte would not trouble them ever again.

“Tell me Gregor.” Gudrød remarked thoughtfully, “What had poor old Aiergaidil done to you for you to loathe him so much?”

“Well my liege, it’s quite simple. He razed the town of Kinlochkilkerran to the ground and butchered my family.”


The personal coat of arms of Gudrød Crovan
 
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Birth of a Vengeful Dream

10th March 1051
The large town of Kinlochkilkerran was bustling today, the news that Count Gilla Brigte Aiergaidil would be coming to visit had gotten the villagers both excited and nervous. He was a man not to be angered or taken lightly; rumours ran rampart that he had had his younger brother tortured to death, after a failed attempt on the count’s life had taken place, rather than him having took ill and dying, as was the official story. While the peddlers set up their stalls a young boy walked with his parents and brothers up the street.

Even at the young age of 13 Gregor stood taller than all of his brothers, despite him being the youngest in the family, and it was often remarked that Gregor would soon top his father William ‘Longlegs’, who was said to be the tallest man in all of the isles. Gazing around the street Gregor heard his father clearing his throat, signalling that everyone better listen.

“Alright boys I want you to be on your best behaviour today. Young Count Gill is not someone to be taken lightly nor does he like to be made fool of. Watch what you say ‘round him. I’d rather walk away from this with my wife and all my sons with me rather than alone and maimed because someone decided to be a smart ass!”

A chorus of acknowledgments and promises came from the group of boys, who had learnt long ago to listen and obey what their father had to say, rather than to be beaten.

Will grunted approval. “Good. Now Gregor I want you to take care of the hors- BE QUIET!- as I was saying you are to look after the horses cause you’re too young to talk directly to his lordship without getting whipped! Understand boy?”

A curt nod came from the red-faced Gregor.

“Good. Just stay in the stable and watch after them. Hopefully this won’t take long. I hate having to haul my arse into town just because some snobby prick in a castle decides to grace us all with his visit. Well? What are you still standing here for? Get a move on!”

With that Gregor sighed and walked the horses over to the small stables, out of eyesight of any easily offended noblemen. “Soon I’ll be old enough to stand in front of that noble, and we’ll see who is better than who.” thought the sullen Gregor, “he’ll have no choice but to see that I’m just as good as him! Hells, I bet I could beat him in a fistfight, no sweat!” As he closed the stable doors after the horses, Gregor dropped down into the nearby hay and started to daydream.

The sounds of screaming and fire awoke Gregor from his pleasant dream, involving the girl from the valley over, and as he looked up smoke was filling the stable. With a curse he kicked the door open and dragged the terrified horses out into the street, only to be greeted by the scene of a massacre. Bodies filled the streets, houses were burning, and men, women and children ran screaming away from the armoured men with swords who looked as if they were enjoying every moment of the butchering.

As he stared on in shock he heard a hoarse voice cry out, “Gregor!” Looking over he saw his father, who was covered in blood and missing his left arm, hobbling over towards him.

“Gregor! You must get out of here at once! The Count! He’s insane! He’s having the town burnt because the mayor was hesitant to kneel! Run away! NOW!”

“But father-”

“No there isn’t time for this! Take the horses and go!”

“But what about mom and-”

“Their dead Gregor. All dead. He had them cut down before I could do anything. I managed to kill one of them, but another got my arm from behind. I won’t have you end up like them. You are all that’s left Gregor. Now go. Go!”

Staring at his father with shock clear across his face, he leapt up onto his horse and reared around. Turning around he began “Father come with me, I-” the words died in his throat as he saw his father lying on the floor already dead. Without another sound Gregor galloped out of the town.

With tears in his eyes and fury in his heart the young boy left the burning town of Kinlochkilkerran as a man.


Kinlochkilkerran ablaze
 
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Alrighty lads thats another one done. Feedback would be appreciated cause I tend to have poor grammer. So if you spot any errors in my updates, just gimme a shout I'll get on top of it. Thanks
 

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well I think its good stuff. A very dark and bloody tale you are weaving here, presumably with the promise of revenge to come
Oh your too kind. And yep Gregor loves his vengance. I only wish his descendants had his drive...
 

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Matrimonal Misery

25th March 1076
The screaming woke Gregor from his troubled sleep. Gasping for air and jumping out of bed he looked around blindly unable to see clearly. From his bed he heard his ‘beloved’ wife, Helga; say “it’s just Janet again. Now stop standing around like a fool and come back to bed.”

Glaring at Helga, Gregor shouted for the nursemaids to take care of his infant daughter Janet. “Poor little Janet” Gregor thought grumpily, “Why couldn’t you have been a boy? Lord knows that I’ll struggle to get this cow to conceive again.” With a sigh he wandered over to the balcony, suddenly overcome with a need for fresh air. As the crying subsided Gregor knew that his daughter was being looked after. Boy or not, he had the best women nursing her. Nothing would happen to her. Of that he was sure.

“Gregor stop loafing around and come back to bed!”

With a glance at his wife Gregor turned and said, “You know that King Malcolm has declared war on your brother for my land? That he claims that since I am a Scot-”

“Of course I do idiot. I am his sister after all. Why do you bring this up now?”

“Well I believe he wants to meet Malcolm in battle, here in Argyll.”

Sitting bolt upright in panic and clutching the cross she always kept around her neck, Helga visibly paled. “No! You must be mistaken! Gudrød can’t have a battle so close to m- so close to us!”

“You will be fine. I have organized it so that you will be staying at his castle at Innse Gall. You’ll be perfectly safe.” Seeing the expression on her face Gregor rolled his eyes and continued, “You’ll be fine. Besides with Janet, and Gudrød’s own daughter… er. What was her name again?”

“Gyrid”

“Right. Gyrid. With them there you’ll be kept nice and busy. You won’t have any time to worry about being attacked.”

“I’m so glad you put the safety of your family above your own needs!” Helga snapped, before rolling over and going quiet. With another heartfelt sigh Gregor turned and walked outside onto the balcony. He tried to get along with Helga, he really did, but her deceitful nature combined with her burning faith made Gregor tire of her company quickly. Did she suspect there was another? Probably. The sow also suspected the he was trying to make communion with the devil though, so no-one should listen to her complaints.

Gregor looked over the misty castle grounds and kneaded his brow. Was it right to be unfaithful? The priests were very clear on that issue, but did they have to put up with her? No they did not. They only dealt with her on Sundays when they held mass. He knew that the whole marriage had been political but he didn’t believe it would be so hard to deal with! The stress had been killing him, of that he was sure. But then along came Adela, some Norman woman from the courts of the William the Bastard, or Conqueror as he liked to be called now. She was everything he had dreamed of in a woman. Honest, charitable, hardworking plus she had a temper that kept him in line, and kept their meetings feisty. With a grin Gregor remembered their first tryst. He had been drunk and she had fought him off before accepting him only after she had blackened his eye, but he still remembered that day with fondness. Despite the less-than-romantic beginning to their relationship, the passion they shared had only grown.

Shaking his head Gregor tried to ward of such soft thoughts. “No.” Gregor thought “I must focus on planning for the battle that comes.” Relishing the prospect of combat in the near future Gregor began to hum to himself as he designed ways to defeat the enemy in the land he knew, and loved, so well.


An idealized sketch of the personal balcony of Gregor Mac Gregor
 
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The Death of a King

9th September 1076
The wind howled along the battlefield as the rain pelted down onto the bodies of the dead. Gregor Mac Gregor, Count of Argyll and Marshall of the Isles, lay amongst the bodies of fallen friends and foes. A hard slap across the face brought Gregor back to the land of the living.

“Wake up! Come on Gregor, wake up! I know you’re not dead!”

His eyes fluttering Gregor dimly made out the shape of a short, broad-shouldered man.

“Eh? Was’ goin’ on? Did we win?” Gregor muttered as he struggled to sit up.

“Yes, we did. Your planning really paid off my old friend. That bastard Malcolm never knew what hit him!”

With a final push and grunt Gregor finally sat up. Looking around blearily he took in the details of the carnage surrounding him, and tried to remember what happened. There had been that damned red mist again! People just as often called him ‘the berserker’ rather than ‘the strong’. He dimly remembered swinging his sword around, hacking the limbs of those in front of him, unable to recall whether those in front of him were friend or foe. Then there had been a heavy blow to the back of the head and then… Darkness.

“Wait a moment… Who are you? I remember you!”

“The hell is that supposed to mean? You know me Gregor! We’ve been comrades-in-arms for over a bloody decade!”

“I can’t remember…” Gregor groaned, “I can’t bloody remember anything!”

“For Christ’s sake! Gregor look at me and tell me you don’t remember me! I’m your bloody best friend, and second in command! Hell, I’m Irish not a Scot! That ought to ring a bell! It’s me! Kenneth Mac Neill!”

Blinking furiously, Gregor’s memories came flooding back. “Shit that was a bloody close call!”

With a relieved laugh Kenneth said “Don’t do that again”

“Yeah… I’ll try not to. You know how I do it for fun.”

“Prick.”

Laughing the two friends began to walk. A point from Ken showed where the command tents of Gudrød Crovan had been erected. As they approached it Gregor knew something was wrong. The sombre faces of the guards and the panicked expressions of the servants caused Gregor and Kenneth to break into a sprint.

Bursting into Gudrød’s personal tent, they saw the captains of the army standing around a table that held the lifeless body of the King of the Isles.

“What? How? How did this happen? He wasn’t meant to participate in battle!” Gregor managed to say, as his friend stood there in shock, his mouth opening and closing.

Glancing at one another an unspoken agreement was reached and the chosen spokesman of the captains stepped forward.

“He caught an arrow to the throat near the end of the battle.” The captain muttered, “The priests and surgeons tried to save his life but there was too much blood. He died before getting to his tent.”

“Dammit!” shouted Gregor suddenly, “Without him who is to rule the Isles? I swore an oath of fealty to his house! An oath I will keep! But with him gone there is only his daughter! That little girl is just one year old! The Isles need a man to rule her, not some little girl!”

“Well sir, with all due respect, your wife has a legitimate claim to the Isles. Since she is married to you, she would most likely receive the support of the other counts of the Isles if she decided to push her claim.”

Gregor paused, thoughts racing through his mind. “I could rule the Isles, without breaking my oath! Yes, but the shrew would probably try to have me killed. Hells, I wouldn’t be able to be with Adela anymore! No the sow will not rule as long as I draw breath. She has no right to. Replace the child with one in an adult’s body? A stupid idea. No she cannot be lady of the Isles!” It took only a few seconds for Gregor to reach a conclusion. “No, my wife will not rule the Lordship of the Isles. She is not capable enough.”

His face reddening one of the older captains stepped forward, “You have no right to prevent your wife from ruling! She is the best possible successor! You are just a fool, more suited for the battlefield than politics.”
With a snarl Gregor stepped forward and smashed his fist into the face of the upset captain, just before Kenneth snapped out of his shock and restrained his friend.

“Enough! Do not be disrespectful, by fighting around the dead!” Kenneth yelled, causing the men in the tent to pause as their hands hovered over their swords.

Spitting on the ground, Gregor nodded. “He’s right. The last thing I want is to be struck down by a vengeful spirit.”

Sighing Gregor looked at the body of his liege. “Get one of the boats ready. This man is a Viking and his body should be treated like one.”

A chorus of agreements signalled the end of the dispute. As the captains filed out, getting ready to inform the men about their loss and to prepare a funeral pyre for the late Gudrød Crovan, Gregor shook his head. “I fear that the next decade is going to be very dangerous for the Isles, and my family, Kenneth.”

“Well Gregor, politics isn’t my strong point but I will say this. You’ll have more to fear from the people at young Gydrid’s court than you will from those on the battlefield.”

“I’m worried that you’re right.”

“Of course I’m right. I’m Irish.”

“Ha! Come-on then. Let’s get this funeral ready.”

With that the two friends walked out of the tent, leaving the coruplent remains of Gudrød Crovan alone.


The painting of the funeral ship of Gudrød Crovan
 

Tapscott

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nice interchange between the two updates

any risk that Helga will blame Gregor for the death of Gudrød? That could set off some dramatic events
Thanks! And yes Helga is rather suspicious of Gregor after her brother's death. However Gregor finds that he is finally in a position of power to get rid of his wife in one way or another.
 

Tapscott

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The Half-Breed Regent of the Isles

20th September 1076
The wind howled outside Finlaggan Castle, the capital of the Lord of the Isles, and the rain continued to beat down like hammer blows upon the stonework, causing the angry voices inside to be raised even further.

“No, and no!” shouted Gregor, “I will not let you take control like this! Show some bloody heart you bastard! Your brother lays dead, his wee girl, who ait even a year old, sits upon the throne and you scheme to take power!”

“Show some heart? Such advice coming from you? You make me laugh Gregor. I never thought I’d hear you actually say something as soft and sentimental as that!” sneered a pompous voice. This voice belonged to none-other than Domnall Crovan, the brother of the late Gudrød Crovan.

Domnall Crovan is a strange man” Gregor thought darkly, “More of a Scot than a Viking, he doesn’t really fit with either people. He’s just a greedy bastard who knows how to twist words.” Gregor started to pace to the floor, ignoring the rest of what the half-breed was saying. “I can’t beat him with words. The man’s clever, I’ll give him that, but he is also a coward. I could force him to back down from the regency, but chances are that I’d have to face the rest of court if it came to that. No, he’s outmanoeuvred me here. Still. I am Marshal of the Isles, and married to the Lady’s Aunt. I have nothing to worry about. He would happily kill me but would he kill his own sister? Would he risk being known as a kinslayer?” Gregor then glanced up, looking over to the nursemaid who was currently holding the 1 year old Lady of the Isles, Gydrid. “The wee bairn cannot even walk yet, and we’re expected to be safe? Lord how I hope that the child Gudrød’s widow is carrying is a boy. Well I’ll have to wait and see. ‘Till then, let the fool rule. I’ll make sure he is dealt with at the end of the day.”

“Gregor? Come on Gregor, pay attention!” his old friend Kenneth Mac Neill hissed. “You can’t just ignore the man, even if he is a prick.”

With a nod at Kenneth, Gregor turned and looked back towards the still talking Domnall.

“-and I mean since I’m her uncle I have the best right to look after-“

“Alright, alright enough from you!” Gregor snapped, “If you really want the regency so badly, take it! But I’ll warn you. If harm comes to that child I’ll introduce you to my sword.”

Paling and swallowing hard, Domnall nodded profusely, “Yes of course, I swear nothing will happen to her.”

“Good”

“Yes nothing will happen to her as long as I’m regent.”

Gregor stared hard at Domnall, before walking slowly towards him. Pausing about a metre before the suddenly sweating man, Gregor then lifted him up by the throat. “The child’s safe. Or my sword.” He said simply before dropping him and walking out of the throne room.

Gregor groaned and kneaded his brow, trying to shake off the damned headache’s that came with such wordplay. “Politics, bah!” he spat, “They’ll make me die out of bloody stress if I’m not careful!”
Kenneth wandered out of the throne room and sauntered up to Gregor, “Well” he said, “That was certainly interesting!”

“Yeah. Too bloody interesting. I hate interesting!” Gregor groaned.

“Aww, toughen up you big baby! Tell ya what. I’ll hang around here and make sure your wife and her brother are busy arguing with one another, and you can skip off to see that Norman lass you brought along with you.”

Gregor stared at his best friend shock clear on his face. Winking Kenneth said “Oh don’t look so bloody surprised. I am rather perceptive when I want to be! You know all deep and meaningful and philosophical and-”

“Your funny Ken. Too funny.”

“Hah! I almost believed what I was saying! Now you bugger off to that stunning wee lass you have, and I’ll make sure dearly beloved wife is too busy chewing pieces out of her brother.”

Smiling and thanking his friend Gregor turned and walked away from the throne room. Five minutes later he arrived at a door in the lower levels of the castle. He raised his hand to knock, but just he was about to the door was opened from the other side. The blond-haired beauty on the other side looked both surprised and delighted to see him. Opening her arms wide and embracing him, Gregor felt all the worries of the last few days fall away.

Outside the castle the stormed raged on.


The weather of the Isles was said to be change depending on the safety the Kingdom, and its rulers, had. This storm reassured no-one.
 
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loki100

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good to see a continuation of the fine CK traditions of dysfunctional families ... and Domnall's attempt to be a man of his very exact words is something that can only lead to troubles
 

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good to see a continuation of the fine CK traditions of dysfunctional families ... and Domnall's attempt to be a man of his very exact words is something that can only lead to troubles
Nothing brings a family closer together than jealously and greed! CK II. Bringing families together since 2012. As for Domnall he stops being a problem, just as he's about to become all powerful. Its kind of sad really.
 

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Alv the Posthumous

9th November 1076
All was silent and Finlaggen Castle, as Gregor and his wife and child approached the castle on horseback. Suddenly a wail broke through the misty dawn startling the tired travellers. The crying continued on and on, seemingly increasing in pitch continually until finally a blessed silence fell over the castle grounds as the crying abruptly stopped.

Shaking his head Gregor glance at his wife, Helga, and said “Well the news is right then. Gudrød’s widow has borne Gudrød's ghost a child!” Grinning Gregor urged his horse forward, moving from a slow canter to a full gallop. Watching her husband gallop off, Helga frowned and readjusted her grip on her mount and her child. “Some of us should show some dignity!” she sniffed, “Isn’t that right Janet?” Happy the young babe gurgled as it heard its mother’s voice.

An excited Gregor was already inside the castle jogging up the stairway to the throne room. His excitement quickly turned to anger as he saw Domnall Crovan waiting for him. “Jesus Christ” Gregor thought “He’s getting fat!” Domnall glanced over at Gregor and waddled over to him with a frown in place. As he approached Gregor examined his rival. “Fat, AND well dressed. The bastard’s making a lot of bloody money from his supposed role as regent.” It was true; Domnall had begun to wear fine fur clothing that made him look even bigger than he was. Domnall thought it made him look more imposing; Gregor thought it made him look like a red pork pie. Domnall’s multiple chins wobbled as he cleared his throat as sweat poured of his face.

“Ahem! Hello Gregor. So what do we owe this gracious surprise?”

Surprise?! I informed the bastard that I’d be coming over as soon as the child was born!” Gregor thought darkly. “Oh is your memory going regent? I distinctly remember writing to you saying that the family and I would be visiting. If you find that the stress of your is too great, then please let me take away this burden from your shoulders.”

“Well, I’m just delighted to see that you are as rude as ever Gregor. I received no such letter. Nor did I send you any information about the boy’s birth!” Domnall snapped. his bleary eyes suddenly focusing on the hulking Scotsman.

Heh, I’ll be damned if I’m telling you that I’ve been keeping in touch with old Gudrød’s widow. Figure it out for yourself you gluttonous fool!” Shrugging, Gregor said “Well I have no idea who sent me the letter, if it wasn’t you Domnall. Now show me to my nephew.”

“He’s not your nephew.”

“Granted, that he isn’t related by blood, but by law I am his uncle, as long as I remain married to his aunt. Besides he is my daughter’s cousin. Now take me to the boy!”

Glaring, Domnall motioned for Gregor to follow him. The two men set of for the stairway at the corner of the castle, getting Helga and Janet to join them as they walked. As they were a quarter of a way up Gregor noted that Domnall was sweating and panting heavily. “If he does this every day that weight should just drop right off. That or his heart’ll give out.” Grinning at the thought Gregor continued upwards towards the nursing room of the castle.

As they reached the doorway Domnall paused, gasping for air and bent double. With contempt in his eyes Gregor shouldered past the corpulent regent and strode into the small nursing room. The light of dawn was slipping through the windows coating the room in a marvellous caramel light, and highlighting the sleeping figure of a baby boy in his cradle. Quietly walking over to the resting infant, Gregor examined his little nephew. He was small, smaller than Janet had been, and had pearly white skin and a bit of red hair on his head.

Suddenly the child opened its eyes and saw all of the people standing around it. Gurgling happily it reached out to them, its hands opening and closing as it tried to find something to grasp hold of.

“Yep.” Gregor commented, “That’s definitely Gudrød’s son. What’s his name Domnall?”

Still breathing heavily Domnall looked up at Gregor and Helga, and muttered “His name is Alv.”

“Alv eh? Different but it sounds alright. Wife, would you look after the two babes for a minute? I just need to have a word with Domnall privately.”

Glaring at them both, Helga nodded and imperiously turned her back on the two men.

“Come on Domnall, I just want to have a word” Gregor said as he dragged the heavily sweating man out of the room. Gently closing the door behind him, Gregor slowly turned around and punched Domnall in the stomach. Wheezing gently Domnall fell backwards. “Alright Domnall listen here and listen good. That boy’s the rightful lord of the Isles, regardless of him being posthumous or not. If any harm falls upon him I’ll have your head. Understand?”

Struggling back to his feet, Domnall glowered at Gregor and spat “Gydrid’s the rightful heir and you know it!”

“Are you willing to fight for that belief? You’ll lose.”

“No I won’t. People will always suspect that Alv is possibly not Gudrød’s son, but with Gydrid they know as a fact that she is his daughter.”

The two men glared at each other as the sounds of two babies being entertained echoed from the room next door. Grunting, Gregor nodded. “Your right, but we’ll see. I swore my loyalty to the Lord of the Isles. I believe that Alv not Gydrid is my rightful liege.”

“So you plan treason Mac Gregor?”

“No, I plan to do the right thing.”

The two men stared at each other for a few more seconds before Domnall broke eye contact, looking at the floor. “Well we’ll see who the people prefer in 15 years. A boy who is probably a bastard, or the acknowledged and legitimate daughter of Gudrød Crovan, Lord of the Isles!”

As the arguing intensified the children in the nursing room got upset. Hushing them both quite Helga gently rocked Alv to sleep as Janet began to doze in her lap.


A Romantic Era Painting of the Countess of Argyll and Alv Crovan (as an infant)
 
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