- Oct 16, 2009
Dramatis PersonaeManoel, Prince of Armenia and second son of Affonso King of Georgia.
Affonso "Amargo", third son of Affonso King of Georgia.
Grateria, betrothed to Manoel.
Adarnase, Marshal of Georgia.
Affonso King of Georgia, head of the Bagratuni dynasty.
General Kommenus, Marshal of Armenia.
Pereyaslava, Queen of Georgia.
Aspae, only daughter of Affonso King of Georgia.
Sancho, First son of Affonso and heir to the Kingdom of Georgia.
1st July 1142.
"A toast! A toast to victory!"
The resounding roar was followed by the gulp of wine. Amargo sat down, grinning impishly. Even his brother looked cheerful; more so than he had for a long, long time.
But why wouldn't he? They had won! The Georgians had beaten the Turks, Manoel was alive, and rumour was that Father had decided to turn west after crushing the Seljuks in the west. Life was sweet, and this wine was good.
He'd been allowed to fight himself; Manoel had been quite unable to stop his little brother, even though he was not yet of age. It had won him much glory; he'd slain a Turkish general by his own hand, and had dazzled the other soldiers by his skill with a sword.
The Armenian palace was nothing like the one in Batumi, where old King David had moved the capital many years before. Manoel wasn't as austere as his father; he saw no reason not to dazzle his friends with rich ornaments decorating the walls, rather than the simple banners in Affonso's court. The banqueting hall may have been smaller here, but it was bright, and looked far more regal; like a real palace.
Amargo was sat on the left of the Prince; on the right, Manoel's new wife, Grateria. The wedding had taken place among the festivities of the morning, on this happy, happy day. The Turks had been beaten! He kept repeating it, hardly able to believe it was true.
When Manoel returned to the palace in early June, he acted swiftly. Sending messages to the scattered remnants of his troops ordering them to reform at the north of his castle, his reconnaissance revealed that the Turks were also moving north, in force, all in a single block. He had been quick to tail them, harassing their troops before disappearing into the wilds, day after day.
Then, the Turks decided to pass their army through a narrow valley, worried about raiders in the mountains. Little did they know that there were not bandits upon those peaks but Manoel's troops, watching the Turks and hoping that they would do exactly what they did; send their force through the pass. The Georgians poured down from the mountains, outflanking the Turks and taking them by surprise, winning a tremendous victory.
The Turks still had another army, to the south. But that was in Azerbaijan, and if the King really was coming, they'd be trapped on two sides; helpless, left to the mercy of the Georgians.
"Brother! You're staring into space again. Come, share your thoughts with us all!"
Amargo emerged from his reverie, and grinned. "I was only thinking of our victory; our inevitable, crushing victory that is sure to take place. What can stop us now?"
"Many things." Seriousness crept into Manoel's voice. "Even if Father does turn east, it will not be an easy battle. The Sultan himself heads the Southern army, and he is well known to be a most inspiring leader. And these infidels are madmen; they refused to surrender at the pass, and when they have the advantage, and are well-supplied... things may be very different."
Trust Manoel to spoil the moment. But then the Prince laughed, and smacked Amargo on the back. "But those are thoughts for another day. Come, be merry, and drink up!"
And so they did. The feast lasted well into the night, and it was past one when Amargo, his vision blurred by over-indulgence, spied Manoel leading his new wife upstairs to his bedchamber. He smiled, and fell off his chair, snoring heavily.
Manoel opened the door to his room. He grinned at his bride, who smiled, timidly, back at him. How the roles were reversed from his standoffishness a few months ago.
He lead her inside, and then closed the door. Immediately, his expression changed. "Sit down." Grateria looked quizzically at him, her face the perfect model of bewildered nerves.
Too perfect a model. Manoel's face, in contrast was harsh, his ice-blue eyes gazing deep into his wife's brown ones. There was no love there any more. He was a statesman now. He had to do his duty.
"You aren't fooling anyone, you know. I know about you and Konrad Von Wittelsbach. You think I am stupid? You think that my spies can't see through your deceptions?"
Grateria's look was maintained for a moment, before collapsing into real fear. "My lord-"
"I don't care." Blunt; that was not often a valued quality in a leader, but in certain cases it was useful. "This is a marriage of politics, and we must both do our duty. I need a son, you need protection. The House Von Wittesbach is not exactly popular back at your home, is it? Not after your support for the Dutch rebellion."
Grateria shook her head, wide-eyed and pale. "Good", said Manoel. "So let us to bed, dear wife." He gave her a brief, twisted smile. The situation was far from perfect, but neither was life, he reasoned.
Konrad is actually Grateria's brother in-game; everytime I get a "falls in love" event, it always seems to be between brothers and sisters...