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Brian
Dublin, Ireland 1073



Clutching tight to his Mother's hand, Brian looked around him in wonder. There were so many people. He never failed to be amazed by it every time that he and his family left their home and made the journey into the city to attend Sunday church services. As amazing as it was, though, it also scared him. He imagined himself getting separated from his family and lost forever in the vast crowds. And so, as he and his family made their way into the church, he clung to his Mother for dear life.

They had arrived later than usual. Brian had heard his Father grumbling about how late they were before they had left. It was not the first time, but his Father had seemed especially angry about it today. He had said that today was a special day, though Brian didn't see what was special about it. When they reached their usual pew, it was already occupied by another family. There was a young boy in the family about his own age and Brian smiled at him. The boy did not smile back, but looked down at the ground instead. While Brain stared at him in confusion, he heard his Father say something to the family and they got up from the pew quickly. They bowed in his Father's direction and hurried away. His Mother guided him to a seat in the pew. Once seated, he twisted around in hopes of catching sight of the family that had so quickly given up their seats, but they had vanished among the crowd of people in the back of the church. The service began then and Brian quickly faced forward lest his Mother admonish him for not paying attention.

Brian went through the motions as he had every Sunday for as long as he could remember. When directed to sing, he sang. When directed to pray, he prayed. In between, he let his mind wander while the priest droned on in Latin. Then something new happened. His parents got up from the pew in the middle of the service and pulled him along with them. His older brother remained seated and Brian looked to him for an explanation. Brian saw that he was crying and was suddenly afraid.

Pulled forward by his Mother's hand, Brian went down the aisle and soon stood before the altar. He looked up at the priest and saw him smiling down at him kindly. A man came forward that Brian had never seen before. He was dressed all in black and had a strange haircut. Brian knew that the man was a monk, but was frightened by the man's stern visage. He watched as his Father picked up the altar cloth and slowly wrapped it around his right hand. Once his hand was tightly wrapped, his parents kissed the cloth and gave his hand to the priest. Brian began to tremble as the priest made the sign of the cross over his head and the black-clad man took his hand. In all of his seven years of life, he had never been so terrified. This was all so strange and he had no idea what was happening. The monk poured cold water on Brian's head and then cut off some of his hair. The monk then began to lead him away and Brian looked to his parents for help, tears in his eyes. But they had already gone back to their seats and their heads were bowed in prayer.

Brian was led out of the church and put into an open cart. The monk climbed in after him as a second monk took the reins and urged the horses onward. They clattered down the road and soon they had left the city behind. The two monks said not a word as he wept in the back of the cart. He considered jumping out and running away. Running back to his family or just running anywhere, but he understood that he was supposed to go with these men. He had always been taught to obey his parents, and they had obviously given him to these monks. It would be wrong to run away.

The cart entered a complex and came to a stop in a sizable courtyard. Brian climbed from the cart and was ushered inside of a simple looking building. Before he entered, he had been able to see large tracts of farmland and many other buildings just as simple as this one, only smaller. He was placed in the center of a circular room and more monks approached him. They began to strip his clothes from him and he cried out in alarm. His Mother had always cautioned him to be careful with his clothes. The monks ignored him and continued their work, even stripping off his undergarments. They then pressed a plain tunic into his hands. Once he had put it on, he was then given a black robe similar to the one that they wore which he also put on. This was followed by sandals and a belt and many other items that they dumped into his arms before leading him from the room and back outside. He was taken to one of the smaller buildings that he had noticed earlier and brought to a small room that contained nothing other than a small bureau and a mattress that seemed to be made of long grass. One of the monks smiled at him and said quietly, "Take the time to arrange your things. You may spend the remainder of the day in prayer. Tomorrow you will begin your initiation." Without any further word, the monks shut the door and left him alone in the small room.

Brian walked to the bureau and placed his extra clothing inside. On top of the mattress was a linen sheet and a pillow. He spread the sheet over the mattress and placed the pillow at one end before lying down. He stared at the ceiling and tried to comprehend what had happened. Young though he might be, Brian was able to understand that life as he knew it had changed. His old life with his family was over and a new life among these monks would begin tomorrow. He wondered if he would ever see his family again. Tears began to sting his eyes and he rolled over to sob into his pillow.
 
Last edited:

General_BT

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Poor kid. :(

Interesting start. I'm looking forward to seeing where this goes...
 
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A well-written and intriguing start with an unusual perspective. Where is Brian's story going to take us? And does the title of the chapter suggest that there will be other central characters apart from Brian? Interesting.
 

Enewald

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Is this the ecclastical education? :eek:
I hope not... :eek:o

Who is this Brian?
 

unmerged(61356)

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General_BT: Well, I'll certainly try to keep things interesting as I go forward.

The_Guiscard: Thanks. Brian is going to be the central character in the story, but there will be others. I have decided to name the chapters after the character that they focus on, though that is not to say that the different characters will not be interacting with one another.

Enewald: I suppose so. Brian will certainly receive the education that was standard to monks at that time. Brian will be better revealed in the future.

Maver1ck: Thanks. Good to have you on board.


I would like to thank you all for taking the time to both read and comment. The next update will go up in the early part of next week.
 

Deamon

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I like!

Consider me subscribed.
 

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Seems unusual but interesting. You have another subscriber.
 

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Donnchad
Wexford, Ireland 1081



It was a beautiful spring day. The sun shone down brightly, it's heat moderated by a cool breeze that blew in from the harbor and carried with it the scent of flowers in bloom. Normally Donnchad Ui Mordha, heir to the throne of Leinster, would have reveled in such a day. On this day, however, he could not bring himself to find joy in any of it. He was filled with a sense of foreboding that easily overpowered any of the pleasantness that he would usually feel. For today, he met his wife.

A woman whom he did not know, had never even met before, would be arriving very soon. Then the two of them would be joined together for as long as they lived. It was a prospect that he found less than thrilling. He had attended several weddings in the past and the couples had always seemed to be so happy to be with one another. Then again, those couples had chosen each other and had not been led blindly to the altar to be thrust into a life with a stranger. He supposed that marriages of the sort that he faced were one of the penalties of high birth.

Donnchad cast his eyes around the open courtyard of his family estate in search of the man responsible for his predicament. He spotted his Father standing atop the stone wall that ringed the hill-top estate and began to walk in his direction. Servants and other small folk called greetings to him and he nodded or waived as he passed. He usually would have stopped and exchanged words with them, but was simply too preoccupied today. He reached the set of stone stairs that ran up along the wall and climbed them to stand atop the battlements of the hill-fort that served as both his home and the center of power of his family and the kingdom that he would one day rule. From here he had a view of all the surrounding countryside. He could see men tending to his family's fields and herds of cattle. He turned from the scene and walked along the battlements toward his Father, Murchaid Ui Mordha- the Ri Ruirech of Leinster.

He was a short, but powerfully built man of middle years who carried himself with the kind of dignified authority that came from being part of an old and powerful family. Like his son, he had dressed himself in a leine of red samite cinched to his waist by a crios of the finest leather. Around his shoulders was a brat in the green of Leinster, fastened to his right shoulder with a circular pin across which was the golden harp that symbolized his kingdom. He turned to his son with a smile and pointed down toward the harbor saying, "They've arrived. Their ship docked at the harbor some time ago and they've just begun making their way here."

Donnchad looked in the direction of the harbor and could see that a party was indeed slowly making it's way up the road toward him. In the center of the group was a woman that he assumed was his future bride. He tried to make out her features, but she was too far away. He took his eyes from the road and leaned against the wall with a heavy sigh. He felt a hand on his shoulder and heard his Father ask, "What's the matter?"

"Nothing."

His Father chuckled and said, "Come on now, I think I can tell when my son is troubled."

Donnchad straightened and turned to fully face his Father. He gestured over the wall and said, "It's the marriage. I'm... I don't know. I suppose that I have misgivings about it."

His Father's smile faded and a stern look came to his face. Donnchad feared that he had angered him and prepared to apologize, but his Father's face softened and he said, "Donnchad, this match is important for the future of not only Leinster, but all of Ireland."

"I know, but I just wish that I knew her a little better. Or at all."

His Father grunted and replied, "All that you or I need to know about her is that she is the sister of the King of England. This marriage will join our houses and make a friend of the English. That friendship may well see an Ui Mordha on the throne of a unified Ireland one day."

Donnchad began to laugh at the suggestion of a unified Ireland, but the look on his Father's face caused it to die in his throat. His Father took him by the shoulders and said, "You're my only son, Donnchad. In you I see all my hopes for the future. Not only of this family, but of Ireland. You're going to do great things in your life, son. You don't realize it yet, but it all begins with what happens here today."

Donnchad began to nod, dumbfounded. His Father had never spoken to him in such a way before. He sought to lighten the mood a bit by asking, "Could you at least tell me what she looks like?"

His Father laughed and replied, "Well, I don't claim to know myself, but I hear that she's quite the beauty."

Donnchad gestured over the wall and said, "They're nearly to the gate. Why don't we head down and find out first hand?"

His Father gestured for him to led the way and he began to descend the stairs. As he approached them, the gates swung open and he and his Father positioned themselves in the entryway. Arrayed in two lines on either side of them were their personal guards. They were dressed in their finest livery and clutching weapons that gleamed in the sunlight. Donnchad watched nervously as the princess and her escort passed through the gate and came to a stop before him. A tall, haughty looking man stepped forward and said in badly accented Gaelic, "I present to you Her Royal Highness the Princess Agathe de Normandie."

The man stepped aside and Donnchad got a good look at the princess for the first time. She wore a long dress of the same color green as the brat he wore on his shoulder. Her golden hair hung down well past her shoulders and her eyes were a piercing blue. Donnchad had never seen so beautiful a woman in all his life. She smiled at him and he felt his knees go weak and his palms grew slick with sweat. He felt his Father step in close to him and heard him whisper, "Are you going to stand here with your mouth open, or welcome her to our home?"

Donnchad snapped his mouth shut and stepped toward her. His hand trembling, he reached for one of hers and bent to plant a kiss on it. He straightened and said, "On behalf of my family and the people of Leinster, I bid you welcome."

She kept her eyes on him while his words were translated and then whispered something to her attendant. He turned to Donnchad and said, "Her Highness is weary from her journey and wonders if they is a place for her to rest."

Donnchad, still captivated by the woman in front of him, made no reply and it was his Father who said, "Of course. Rooms have been prepared for all of you. My servants will show you the way and attend to your needs."

Donnchad reluctantly released Agathe's hand and watched as she disappeared with her escort. His Father put an arm around his shoulder and asked, "Well, what do you think about the marriage now?"

"I suppose that I can go through with it if it's so important to you. ", Donnchad replied with a smile.
 

Teep

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Nice work, is your ambition to have someone on the throne of Ireland?

Origionally posted by Haardrade
She wore a long dress of the same color green as the brat he wore on his shoulder.

I didn't know a brat was a peice of clothing...
 

Enewald

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Oi, so the eldest has turned out 16?
And I wonder how ugly the sister of the King really is in the game picture. :D

Great narrative!
 

unmerged(61356)

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Teep: Thanks. I indeed hope to unify Ireland. A brat is a traditional piece of Irish clothing that was worn during the period. It was a rectangular piece of cloth that was worn around the shoulders an held in place by a pin. It's length would vary according to the station of the wearer.

Enewald: Yes, Donnchad has turned 16 and is about to (hopefully) embark on a life of greatness. As to the game picture: comparatively speaking, she looks pretty decent. Trust me, if she ad been ugly I would have faithfully reported it and Donnchad's reaction would have been very different. :D
 

Enewald

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Can we then now if she is fertile with opening the save file and checking what her traits are also in life and fertility terms? :D
 

unmerged(61356)

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Enewald said:
Can we then now if she is fertile with opening the save file and checking what her traits are also in life and fertility terms? :D

I could list out her traits, but I was thinking of letting them be revealed through the narrative.
 

Enewald

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I mean the numbers shown before the dna. Just tell the two last ones before the dna, they should be health and fertility.
Last one very important, when he is the only son.
Or was that just a narrative idea? :rolleyes:
 

unmerged(61356)

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Enewald said:
I mean the numbers shown before the dna. Just tell the two last ones before the dna, they should be health and fertility.
Last one very important, when he is the only son.
Or was that just a narrative idea? :rolleyes:

I didn't know that you could do that before now. :eek:o
Agathe's Health rating is 7 and her Fertility rating is 4.

It was not a narrative idea. Donnchad is his Father's only child.
 

Alfred Packer

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Sep 30, 2006
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Donnchad
Tallaght, Ireland
June 1081



Donnchad rode his horse down the slope atop which he had made his encampment. The light of day was fading and he guided the animal carefully over the uneven terrain that covered the sides of the hill. This was his favorite horse and he would have hated to cause it injury. For that matter, he would have hated to cause himself injury too. The going was painfully slow, but he and the small number of riders that constituted his personal guard made it down the hill without incident. He led the group over a small field and onto the road to Tallaght Monastery. They rode off into the gathering night, leaving the flickering lights of Donnchad's army behind them.

The abbot was waiting at the entrance to the monastery along with several of his monks when Donnchad and his party rode up. Evidently, the monks had gotten notice of his imminent arrival. This did not surprise Donnchad overly much as he supposed that an army tramping about the nearby countryside was bound to be noticed rather quickly. He and his men dismounted. Handing the reigns to one of his men, Donnchad approached the group of monks and bowed respectfully to the abbot. Once he had straightened back up he said, "I hope that my coming is not an inconvenience."

The abbot smiled replied, "Not at all. We are honored to have or new Ri Tuath* among us. I offer you our hospitality and bid you welcome. I regret to inform you that my monks and I have already taken our supper, but we would be happy to provide you with food and drink if you wish."

Donnchad grimaced inwardly at the abbot's mention of his new title. It had been his wedding gift from his Father and he was still getting used to it. He bowed his head slightly in recognition of the abbot's generosity and said, "That will not be necessary for myself, but I'm sure that my men would welcome a good meal."

"Of course.", replied the abbot. He gestured to two of the monks and said, "If your men will follow, these brothers will show them the way to the dining hall. We will see to your horses."

Donnchad dismissed his men who eagerly set off after the monks in anticipation of the meal to come. Other monks, true to the abbot's word, came forward and led the horses to the stables, including Donnchad's own. The abbot's welcoming party had diminished quite a bit by now and Donnchad found himself facing only the abbot and one other monk. The monk was tall, with a lean frame and seemed to be close to his own age. To them he said, "For myself, I ask permission to pray awhile at the shrine of St. Maelruain."

The abbot smiled at him and answered, "Permission granted, of course. Do you know the way?"

Donnchad shook his head and replied, "It has been many years since I was last here and I'm afraid that I do not."

"No matter.", said the abbot. Turning to the young monk next to him he asked, "Would you show the Ri Tuath the way?"

The young monk bowed and answered, "Of course, your Eminence." He then gestured for Donnchad to follow and began to lead him over the monastery grounds. They made their way to the shrine in silence, their only light coming from the oil lamp carried by the monk. Once there, the monk stood at a respectful distance in order to give Donnchad some privacy.

Donnchad spent an hour before the shrine. He used the time to both pray, and to reflect on the many changes that had come into his life over such a seemingly short period of time. When he was finished he rose from his kneeling position and approached the silent monk who asked, "Are you ready to go, my Lord?"

Donnchad nodded, "Yes, I suppose that I am."

The two began to walk back across the monastery grounds. They moved in silence most of the way until the young monk suddenly asked, "Do you mind if I ask what you came to pray for, my Lord?"

Donnchad glanced over at the monk and replied simply, "Guidance." He thought he heard the monk chuckle at his answer and asked, "Does that amuse you?"

The monk shook his head, "No, my Lord. It would be more accurate to say that it surprised me."

"Why is that?"

"I assumed that you would have been praying for a great victory in battle."

Donnchad thought about that for a moment and replied, "Perhaps I was, in a way. I asked for guidance in all things."

"You have other concerns more pressing than leading an army to war, my Lord?"

"A great many, I'm afraid.", replied Donnchad. "It seems that my life has recently been nothing more than one series of concerns after another."

"In what way, my Lord?"

Donnchad let his eyes slide over to the monk, wondering why he was asking so many questions. It was definitely not something that he was used to. He said, "You may well be one of the most inquisitive monks that I have ever met."

The monk stopped and turned to fully face Donnchad. He bowed his head forward and said, "I apologize if I have given offense, my Lord."

"No at all.", replied Donnchad. "And please, you don't have to keep calling me 'my Lord'. My name is Donnchad, and you may address me as such."

"I would not want to be disrespectful."

Donnchad laughed, "All men are equal before God, are they not?"

The monk nodded and answered, "I suppose so....Donnchad."

Donnchad smiled warmly at the young monk and asked, "And what is your name, brother?"

"Brian."

Donnchad nodded and said, "Brian? Named for the King, I presume."

The monk shrugged and responded, "I do not know what caused my parents to give me the name."

"I suppose that none of us know why our parents do anything, eh?", asked Donnchad. "Take mine, as an example. Or rather, my Father. He married me to an English princess, made me Ri Tuath of Dublin and then raised the armies of Leinster and put me at their head. Mind you, all of this was done over the course of a couple weeks."

"Your Father obviously has great faith in you.", said Brian in what Donnchad imagined was a sad tone of voice.

"Yes, I suppose that he does."

"And you are displeased by this?", asked Brian.

Donnchad thought for a moment before shaking his head and replying, "No, not at all. I am very pleased with the marriage and I'm proud of the fact that he trusts me with Dublin and the army. It's just that... everything changed so suddenly. It was as if I woke up one day to find that my life no longer bore any resemblance to the one I was living just the day before. Do you have any idea what that is like?"

The monk looked into his eyes and Donnchad thought he had never seen such an expression of sadness. In a quiet voice Brian answered his question, "Yes, Donnchad. I do."



* The historical Irish title of Ri Tuath is as close to Count as I can get. It translates roughly to Tribal King. I'm trying to give the narrative more of an authentic flair by giving the characters the titles that they would have actually been known by. Hence the reference to Donnchad's Father as being the Ri Ruirech of Leinster (Provincial King in translation) instead of the Duke of Leinster. I don't know if that's the best way to go in terms of making it better to read, though. If everyone finds the Gaelic words bothersome I can switch to English translations or I can give the meaning of any future Gaelic words at the bottom as I did here. Let me know what you would prefer.
 
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