coz1

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The Heavy Crown


“It might as well of thorns be made

To pierce the skin, frail and frayed

To let the sanguine trickles run

For the true trial has just begun!

Accursed be those too eagerly

Who seek to grab at prophecy

Who listen not to rhymes of old

To echoes of three brothers bold

Who shaped this land and all within

Who fought for friend, for kith and kin

Yet still this symbol does inspire

Even from the deathless pyre

Be warned all those of great renown:

Death waits within the heavy crown.”

- Composed by Brother Nylan of Taunton


* * *

Gainsborough, England - May 1129


Eadward stood before the chamber door of the privy council and softly placed his hand to it as if willing it to be locked. The smooth wood was anything other than his own thoughts at the now. There was much to be done and he had no desire to speak with these Lords...not now. Not after what his brother had told him. Still, he squared his shoulders and pushed to find the first full council meeting in some few years.


“My Lords,” the Prince announced as he walked in and saw the King’s empty chair, “I thank you for finding such quick progress to Gainsborough at the now. I know that it must have been some hardship.”

The newest member of the King’s council looked with question, “Where be the King, my Lord Chancellor? I would think him to show for a meeting of such great import.”

Eadward delicately walked around the King’s seat and found his usual chair before looking to Robert of Normandy and then the rest in attendance, “I am afraid that I must impart some words that I have little wish to say to you, my Lords. I am grieving within mine own heart. Two of you have already this ill news, but I must now speak it to you all.”

The Bishop Cearl seated at the other end of the table offered a kind eye, “Perhaps our prayer before we begin, my Lord Chancellor?”

“Yes...” Eadward took his seat in full and gave nod, “I think that would find us all well met, my Lord Bishop. And most needed.”

As the Bishop offered prayer, the Duke from Normandy looked around to all with some question. He noticed the sad faces from both the Chancellor and the Marshal and the Bishop himself kept a solemn visage. When he was done, Eadward took some moments to look them each in the eye before he began again.

“I would answer your question,” Eadward looked to Robert, “And I must say before I do a welcome to this room and our company. It is with great faith that His Grace does name you to join with us, and I hope that you will find us all well met in return.”

Robert kept a skewed brow but allowed a smile, “I am most pleased to be in your company, but there are many solemn faces and I would know what this means.”

Eadward produced a parchment and put it to the table for all to see. He tapped his finger upon it as he looked to the document with sadness and then finally raised his head to look to them, “It is the great misfortune of our bold King that he has continued to suffer from ailments for these last many years. Though there seemed to be a healing, in these last months he is yet again unwell. I know, as the rest of you be certain to hope, that he be cured of his disease. However...at this time...”

The Norman looked around the table and saw sad faces as Eadward hesitated to finish his thought. The Prince himself could only look to the document with sorrow as he continued, “...at this time, His Grace does see fit to appoint a Regent to act with good faith in his stead.”


The youngest of them, Lord Harold of Gloucester looked to the Chancellor with shock, “Can this be true?”

“I am afraid that it is,” Eadward gave a solemn nod and tapped at the parchment once more, “Here is his word, signed and given seal. In it, I am named the King’s Regent and know well that I may depend upon each of you in the coming days until the King has regained his health.”

Robert of Normandy looked to the youngest brother of Wessex and Beorhtmaer simply held his head low but gave a quick nod without saying a word. The Norman then produced a caring face as he turned to Eadward once more, “His Grace must surely be in great pain to have followed on with such a drastic step and I would support him and you in every way that I am able, my Lord.”

“I am glad to hear of it,” Eadward answered him, “And please do not make mistake...the King is within his right mind at the now. It is only that his body fails him that he thinks it necessary to go here. He does fear incapable of caring for the strength of the realm as he was once able and needs this protection. I will be certain to speak with him often.”

“May we see His Grace?” Lord Harold asked with concern.

Eadward looked to Harold with some sympathy, “The King does not wish an ogling body of bystanders to witness his infirmity, however he would permit this group to appoint one among you if they must needs confirm what I have said to you now.”

Always a protector of King Uhtræd, Bishop Cearl raised a finger, “May I then suggest that it be Lord Harold here that does so. As I have already heard the confession of His Grace, I have no need to confirm what is well known already and as you and the Lord Marshal are his brothers, it may not be considered a trusted source.”

Beorhtmaer kept his head low but still gave nod and Eadward turned from the Bishop to the rest, “Shall we then be in agreement, sirs? I shall arrange it if so.”

Harold and Robert locked eyes for but a moment before the Norman gave assent, “I be certain that our Lord here may be a boon to the King as I understand them to be close. I would only wish him the best, my Lords.”

Lord Harold found a slight smile, “I thank you, sirs.”

“It will be good of you to do so...” Eadward pushed forward, “...as I will have need to send word to our other great Lords to let them know of what has taken place. Your testimonial amongst the King’s words will carry great weight, I be certain.”

“Do you think to have trouble from the north?” Harold asked with concern.

Eadward tried to smile, “I do not know and you may tell me that very same, my Lord. His Grace would wish you a fine canvass so that he may know the truth of it. The Lady in Mercia may prove an irritant as she lacks an access that she would wish, but I think that His Grace knows our man in York well enough.”

“Yes...Lord Mark...” Robert sniffed the air with contempt.

“Leave off of it, my Lord,” Beorhtmaer finally spoke in a soft but still forceful tone, “I beg of you.”

The Chancellor and now Regent looked over the table to Robert with a smile, “We shall know of the feeling in the north soon enough. I think not to have issue anywhere else. Lord Æthelmær in Kent remains devoted to the crown and though my Lady wife had wish to join me here at this time, I did beg of Lady Judith to stay in her seat in Norfolk as she is needed there as both Lord and mother to my children.”

“I would say as well...” Lord Harold began to suggest, “...I continue to keep ties in Dorset, Lord Chancellor. While it was a sad thing to see Lord Godwine pass…”

“Not that sad,” Robert suggested under his breath.

“...Nonetheless,” Harold continued, “His son Eadweald is seated fully and your Lady sister does do her worth to help him in every way.”

Eadward gave a solemn nod, “That is fine news amongst the poor we hear today. I be certain that Mathilda would keep him right.”

“My Lord...” Bishop Cearl found question, “...Have you had chance to send off word to the Prince in Meissen?”

“Prince Oscytel has been notified,” Eadward sat tall in his chair, “And at this time, we have not yet received his reply. As much as we may wish it, His Grace does wish it even more. I would tell you the moment that it comes.”

“And what of other pursuits?” Beorhtmaer asked once more in a low voice as he kept a look to the parchment still sitting in the middle of the large table, “His Grace had wish for Glamorgan and I have planned it out. This Earl Cadwgan has few allies...Connacht is ruled by a young boy and I do not see the Catalan Band putting into a struggle without good pay...are we still to move forward?”


Eadward wished to gain the eye of his brother, but Beorhtmaer would not look to him, so instead he turned to the others, “I think to wait on that at the now. There will be time enough to follow on and continue our gains, but first we must find security.”

“I would say that the treasury is secure, my Lord,” Robert chimed in, “There has been little chance to get up to speed in my short time here, but the ledgers do look sound enough even with the playful figures our late Lord of Bedford found. You need not wait on that account.”

“And do you be secure?” Beorhtmaer suddenly looked up and offered the Norman a sharp eye, “Still no wish to travel back to your land so you may see to your plight?”

Robert answered him plainly, “As I have told you before, good Prince...if this be what is tasked of me, I will not yield. My men have it all well in hand and I could not leave His Grace at such a time as this. I should think that you may wish it.”

Eadward reached over to place his hand over his brother’s to quiet him, “We all may wish it, Lord Robert, and His Grace thanks you for your diligence and care.”

Robert offered a thankful nod and Beorhtmaer did not feel the need to push further. Harold seemed slightly confused but looked to the Chancellor with anticipation and Bishop Cearl gave over a comforting smile. Eadward watched them all before looking to the parchment himself once more.

He finally raised his head and tried to find his strength, “It is not a new dawn, my Lords...only a setback that will be overcome as His Grace has always found before. He is our bold King and we should expect nothing else. It is too sad that he must weather such a storm, but he has seen worse in his days and I’ve no doubt that he will prove as worthy as he has always done. We few must hold this together in the meantime and I would count on each and every one. I have no need of oath for myself, but I must needs know that you continue to swear fealty to the King in all ways.”

To a man, they all answered, “I do so swear.”

Eadward tried to find a smile, “That is good. It is needed. England sits in a fine place at the now while the rest of the world turns in turmoil. Our brother by law may find no purchase in France and no other may do so as well...”

Robert offered a nod with a slight grin.

“...And the Holy Father must still find another as well as heresies throughout...” Eadward continued.

Bishop Cearl offered a disappointed frown.

“...Our potential enemies abroad have no avenue to find us whether Scot, Irish nor even the Emperor in Germany...”

Beorhtmaer made no notion of the thought as he kept his look to the parchment upon the table.

“...And so it is we few that must protect His Grace in his time of need so that we may see our realm grow even stronger,” Eadward finished.

Lord Harold looked to them all and then back to Eadward as he offered a full throated, “God save the King!”

Everyone else in the chamber followed him in their own way as they answered, “God save the King!!”

 
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coz1

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Introduction:

Hello and welcome all to Book Three in my trilogy written on The House of Wessex. For those that do not know, this story began with The Rightful King in which I follow Eadgar of Wessex as he tries to gain the throne of England back for his House. That was followed with book two The Bold Prince in which I follow Eadgar's son (or three sons, rather) and now we come to the continuation. The entirety will be a trilogy so when this book is finished, so too will the tale I plan to tell.

I began to break the story up once the first work got to be so very long, I feared that I may not be attracting any new readers. I had hoped that the 2nd story would work on its own, however now that we have moved so far down the line, I am not certain it would not be best for new readers to start at the beginning. At this time, I hope the look of it might intrigue someone new and push them to look back at the work. I apologize for the length, but I have been writing this story for nearly a year and a half and between a steady habit of writing and posting and excellent comments along the way, this tale just grows.

However, if you just want to to jump on board now, you may still enjoy the part of the story I am about to tell. I hope to present each of the characters as fully as possible to start and I should probably reiterate that the game this is based off was started with vanilla CK and began in the 1066 scenario. We pick up our story here obviously some many years later.

As I always say, I invite feedback and reader comments as they help me immensely in the work. I do not have issue with certain nits that may need picking or even advice on gameplay or writing (though the game portion of this story has already been played out.) I hope one and all gather enjoyment from my characters and the tale as I have had such fun writing it. I do hope you that will follow along. :)

[EDIT - I should also say that the opening bit of verse was once again written by our good friend @stnylan as he did in The Bold Prince. Very many thanks for that, good sir!]
 
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Bullfilter

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God save the king indeed! Congratulations on the launch of the new book - they will sail on stormy seas, I feel, but trust with good guidance they will ply a safe path through at the last. In coz we trust! :)
 

stnylan

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So a meeting where they all have to start re-establishing themselves and their relationships to one another in this new reality, with no idea of how long the illness may be.
 

Specialist290

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Eadward finally has his chance to shine, much has he had in his youth. As you've pointed out in the previous thread, though, I wonder if a younger Eadward would have still been as ambitious had he known the circumstances under which his dream will be fulfilled... Nevertheless, he seems to be not only the man of the hour, but the man for the job here.

(Sidenote: I had briefly wondered if you were going to show us the screenshot of the council vote for Beorhtmaer's war proposition -- until I remembered you're playing without Conclave, and thus Eadward effectively has carte blanche as regent.)

Already I think I can see the seeds of some of the conflicts that may bloom in due course. The house of Hwicce is conspicuous by its absence from the council chambers -- and yet, as touched upon in the update itself, that absence very much has a presence of its own. The brief banter between Beorhtmaer and Robert almost has the feel of a rivalry in the making, and the crises on the Continent seem to conceal secret opportunities for those who might know where to look for them (again, Robert).

And speaking of the Continent: Hopefully we'll hear word from the Queen and the Crown Prince soon enough. It's been quite a while indeed since they last made an appearance.

Finally: Is that a Kingdom of Sicily I spot there on the world map? How are they doing? I have a soft spot for the de Hautvilles, going all the day back to my CK1 days, and I still try to keep tabs on them when I can.
 

Nikolai

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And so it begins! I am so happy to see this third (and I wish not the last :p ) chapter in the saga begin. :) I wish you all possible luck my friend, and promise to be following as long as it lasts! :)
 

coz1

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Ahh...good old fb-fb...it's like we never left :D:

God save the king indeed! Congratulations on the launch of the new book - they will sail on stormy seas, I feel, but trust with good guidance they will ply a safe path through at the last. In coz we trust! :)
That is quite a lot of trust in my hands. I hope I can steer it well. I certainly hope it is a safe path.

So a meeting where they all have to start re-establishing themselves and their relationships to one another in this new reality, with no idea of how long the illness may be.
Quite. I wanted that first scene to work as a bit of a place setter - see where everyone (most) are right now and make sure we remember the council, etc. Obviously needed to introduce Robert's place there now as well. Especially, I wanted to continue showing Eadward ready for his role but at the same time reticent to take on any trappings. Notice that the King's chair remains empty. I thought that was important.

Eadward finally has his chance to shine, much has he had in his youth. As you've pointed out in the previous thread, though, I wonder if a younger Eadward would have still been as ambitious had he known the circumstances under which his dream will be fulfilled... Nevertheless, he seems to be not only the man of the hour, but the man for the job here.

(Sidenote: I had briefly wondered if you were going to show us the screenshot of the council vote for Beorhtmaer's war proposition -- until I remembered you're playing without Conclave, and thus Eadward effectively has carte blanche as regent.)

Already I think I can see the seeds of some of the conflicts that may bloom in due course. The house of Hwicce is conspicuous by its absence from the council chambers -- and yet, as touched upon in the update itself, that absence very much has a presence of its own. The brief banter between Beorhtmaer and Robert almost has the feel of a rivalry in the making, and the crises on the Continent seem to conceal secret opportunities for those who might know where to look for them (again, Robert).

And speaking of the Continent: Hopefully we'll hear word from the Queen and the Crown Prince soon enough. It's been quite a while indeed since they last made an appearance.

Finally: Is that a Kingdom of Sicily I spot there on the world map? How are they doing? I have a soft spot for the de Hautvilles, going all the day back to my CK1 days, and I still try to keep tabs on them when I can.
Obviously Eadward will play a very large role in this part of the story. In many ways, he is the through-line between all of them having come in mid to late in the 1st, spanned the entirety of the 2nd and now has such a large task to start the 3rd. And yes, even though he has some personal foibles, he is still quite good at his job.

On Adela and Oscytel, I must play coy with this for now. Trust that they too will play a role but I really cannot say too much more on this just yet.

As for Southern Italy, I admit that I have not spent much time poking around down there. It does seem as though they have grown rather large. Italy will play a larger role in this work so we'll have to check on it.

Finally, some good looks at possible conflicts. I can say that it is a definite that we have not seen the last of House Hwicce in this work. Sooooo far from it. ;):D

And so it begins! I am so happy to see this third (and I wish not the last :p ) chapter in the saga begin. :) I wish you all possible luck my friend, and promise to be following as long as it lasts! :)
Thank you, sir! I hope it will remain up to the standard I have set for myself thus far and will not disappoint (even if I must finish sometime - I cannot keep writing this thing forever.)

God save the King!
Here, here!!


To all - You all must have known that I could take no downtime, especially as I am about to take a week away. :rolleyes: And as you can see, my scenes are getting a tad longer. Not sure why, other than the need for scene setting and information to get across. There is a lot happening at once in these first couple of years and it has been an exciting ride to plot it out. I hope it is as exciting to read. As always, I thank you so very much for being stalwarts and following me over here to continue with the story. It means quite a lot. Your comments remain the best and I'm truly stoked to take this ride with the bunch of you! Check back tomorrow for the next scene and thanks again!
 

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And so the scene is set. At least the Council are united behind the Regent. How long that will last only time will tell but it’s a good start. I, too, am looking forward to meeting the Prince and getting a measure of his mettle
 

JabberJock14

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Glad we could just jump right into it - how all cliffhangers should be. :)

The council meets and not all is well. Beo still seems standoffish to Eadward, rivalries continue to emerge and while this is all under the guise of a temporary setback, we know that the king's time draws to a close. I'm curious what Oscytel says because while he is less than impressive in stats, he does have quite the potential in lands to draw power from - England and Messien. Sets up for a complicated future, for sure.
 

coz1

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Fb-fb:

And so the scene is set. At least the Council are united behind the Regent. How long that will last only time will tell but it’s a good start. I, too, am looking forward to meeting the Prince and getting a measure of his mettle
It was quite weird to write a council scene where everyone seemed (on the surface) to agree. Usually there is a foil somewhere in there. But you are right - that may not last. As for Oscytel...wait and see.

Glad we could just jump right into it - how all cliffhangers should be. :)

The council meets and not all is well. Beo still seems standoffish to Eadward, rivalries continue to emerge and while this is all under the guise of a temporary setback, we know that the king's time draws to a close. I'm curious what Oscytel says because while he is less than impressive in stats, he does have quite the potential in lands to draw power from - England and Messien. Sets up for a complicated future, for sure.
I've been ready for it for a while so it was a quick turn around. It is true that Beo and Eadward still have some tension and that won't go away anytime soon. As for Oscytel, the inheritance laws in Meissen are different so I'm not sure how much of that land he would actually inherit. Recall he has two other brothers of his own.


To all - the next scene follows directly.
 

coz1

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The Heavy Crown


Gainsborough, England - July 1129


The Prince knocked softly on the King’s chamber door and heard the call come out for him to enter. Opening it slowly, he noted that the room remained dark with only a slight light allowed in through thin patches of the cloth hung over the windows. In this, Eadward was able see his brother resting comfortably in the bed and yet, Uhtræd remained motionless.

“Brother,” Uhtræd called out to him, “Fetch another pillow and prop me up so that I may look upon you more fully.”

“You knew that it was me,” Eadward tried to smile as he did as asked and moved to lift the King’s shoulders and stuff a large feather filled pillow under his back and neck.

With help, Uhtræd lay back and offered his brother a grin as he caught his eye, “There would be naught other that would come to visit.”

“What of the Lady Maud?” Eadward asked with concern.

Uhtræd struggled to lift a hand to wave the thought away, “It be no fault of hers that I would wish her not to see me in such form. I do believe her to be mightily sad.”

Eadward gave nod, “I should think so as she is ever devoted to you, brother, and has done well to care for you in all ways.”

“I do not wish it,” the King’s hand went limp beside him and he rolled his eyes with pain to look at the ceiling.

“You are sounding of defeat once more,” Eadward replied as he pulled a chair close, “That is not your nature.”

Uhtræd did his best to smile and turn his head, “What else may I be in this condition? If this be not defeat, then place a sword in my hand and see if I may hold it. You will then see my true nature at the now.”

“You must have hope as we all do,” Eadward tried to console as he gently pulled his brother’s hand to him and saw him wince with pain as he did so. For his part, Uhtræd did his best to wrap his fingers around and grasp at it with what strength he had.

“I will allow the all of you to keep with such thought, for I fear to have naught any at what I see before me.”

Eadward tried to smile, “It is not so bad as that, brother. The tinctures have kept your mind sound even if some few other items do not work as they once did. Trust in your physicians for I be certain that they will find your cure.”

Uhtræd found a bit more strength to squeeze at his brother’s hand, “I’ll not be having any more blood lettings, I say so now and forever more. It weakens more than helps. And I do distrust that one with the whiskers...his need for my daily movements goes right along with his shifty eyes. I will have him at my side no longer.”

“I will see to it,” Eadward gave nod as he offered a gentle pat to Uhtræd’s hand.

“I thank you,” Uhtræd replied as he released his grip and looked back to the ceiling, “So then...tell me what your King may wish to know. How goes the realm...the council? Does our man from Normandy fit with the others?”

Eadward sat back with his reply, “He is nothing if not finding his way to please Your Grace in every way.”

“Well...” Uhtræd allowed a slight grin, “...that is new. I have never known that from his forebears.”

“He may prove to be a difference,” Eadward shared the grin, “And yet...he does share some similarities with his father.”

Uhtræd took some pains to crane his neck so he may look to his brother, “How so?”

Eadward lowered his head, “The men of Normandy have always had too grand of goals in their pursuits. Though the Lord does find his struggle nearly won against his Earl of Mortain, he does now look to the lands to his east and think he may make some play there.”

The King looked to his brother with some confusion, “His struggle?”

“Yes, brother...” Eadward looked to him with some concern, “...you may recall that this Earl Beorhtsige in Mortain declared for another?”


“Another Norman?” Uhtræd kept in his confusion.

Eadward nodded in reply, “Yes...and no, mayhap. This Earl would see your man in Essex as Lord of that land at this time.”

Uhtræd tried to place it together, “The boy from William the Red?”

“His grandson, brother...” Eadward leaned in closer.

“Does he now wish the throne?” Uhtræd asked with some worry.

“No...” Eadward reached out to clasp his brother’s hand again, “...this young Earl William does play no part of it other than to give our House of Rose their chance. They think to swat away their new Duke...”

Uhtræd found some clarity and sighed, “That old Duke Robert...what may he say to his son now?”

“I think not much,” Eadward replied, “And yet, our Lord Robert does see his battles won and should not have need for concern going forward with this lot of Rose.”

“What does your daughter think of it?” Uhtræd found another grin as he turned slightly to look at Eadward.

Eadward did not return the grin in his answer, “Wynnflæd’s Eadread is the youngest of this clan and holds no part in it. It is his brother, the Earl of Derby that plays with his cousin. And as I say...it should all be over soon.”

Uhtræd pointed with pained eyes, “There...the tincture...I think to take another dose.”

“Of course,” Eadward moved to help the King drink down some of his medicine and then watched him lay his head back to the pillow with some easement.

After some time, the King asked with his eyes still closed, “You mention the east? What think you there?”

Eadward placed the bottle down and looked to his brother once more, “It would seem that our Lord Robert does have some design to be Emperor like his father desired before him. I know not how he may gain such a thing, but there it is.”

Uhtræd kept his eyes closed as he answered flatly, “He will not gain it and that is not what is meant. What word from Meissen?”


“It has been...few,” Eadward lowered his head, “The Prince does reply to say how sorry he is to hear that you be unwell.”

The King opened his eyes with pain apparent, “Does he say that he be sorry or sad?”

Eadward kept his head low, “He wrote...that he be sorry.”

“My son...” Uhtræd struggled to gain focus on the ceiling above him, “...what may I do?”

“However,” Eadward tried to find a kindness, “Your daughters do send you word and wish you the very best.”

Uhtræd kept a pained face, “She has poisoned them...all of them. I doubt you find much word from Eadberht or Eadgar...”

“Not...much,” Eadward replied as he did not know what else to say.

“Adela?” Uhtræd asked as he looked above, “Why do you hate me so?”

“Your other sons do send wishes as well,” Eadward suggested as solace.

Uhtræd trained an eye to a point on the ceiling, “Not many of them, however...as you say. And this cannot be. You must double your efforts brother...”

“Double them to what?” Eadward asked with a surety.

The King found the strength to reach out and grab at his brother’s hand once more and looked to him with pain still in his eyes, “It is my every hope that Oscytel will return to these lands and take up his rightful place when the time is required. He must know that this Kingdom has need of him in every way. As much as I never had such wish for myself, so too must he be convinced as you did for me! You must get past his mother...some way...some how...”

Eadward lowered his head as he answered slowly, “I know her not as well as you, but...brother, I will try.”
 

stnylan

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The wound that is Meissen has not been touched on for quite some time, but here, closeted up with his thoughts, it is clearly present.

Hate? She did make her view plain all that time ago. But maybe some hatred, even so, of a broken union.
 

Bullfilter

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Those lands of Meissen are very fragmented. It might be interesting if Eadward’s investigations could throw light on the general situation they find themselves in at the now. [OOC: That is, if you had any screenshots or save points from that time that could be used for such.] While those lands offer opportunity down the track when Oscytel inherits, they could also prove a distraction or worse - the dreaded continental entanglements, that become a bottomless pit one can throw troops and treasure into but never fill!

A bit of a newb/learner question: would granting an advance on the inheritance (ie a single county title of the precious few the King holds) bring Oscytel back to England, for game but particularly narrative purposes? Though in a purely game sense, I guess it probably has no great intrinsic merit, unless you want to farm out excess counties to someone you would ultimately control again, keeping them in the direct line of succession while avoiding the excessive demesne penalties. Not that it’s been a problem for the House of Wessex these many years!
 

JabberJock14

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Uhtræd's situation seems reminiscent of his father, as he laments a lost relationship with his sons. Though in this case it is arguably more painful as Uhtræd has really done nothing wrong, and has lost support from all of them it appears, whereas Eadgar only had issues with Uhtræd despite doing more despicable things. Though seems odd that Oscytel would not be more interested in England - it is a crown and at the very least would help in in time in Meissen (which my eyes! The border gore is real and horrifying).

Perhaps he lacks the foresight to understand his inheritance is at stake. He should be making a beeline for England instead of taking his sweet time.
 

coz1

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Fb-fb:

The wound that is Meissen has not been touched on for quite some time, but here, closeted up with his thoughts, it is clearly present.

Hate? She did make her view plain all that time ago. But maybe some hatred, even so, of a broken union.
Whether Adela hates him or no, Uhtræd clearly believes that she does. He simply does not understand why Oscytel is not more eager to come to England, or at least have more of a sense of urgency about the situation. I believe you are correct - so much time spent to bed or otherwise leaves the King with so much time to ponder.

Uhtræd is clearly a man in considerable pain here, both in body and in soul -- and while the body may feel it more acutely, I suspect the soul's burden is the harder to bear.
I'm glad the attempt to show his pain is working, in both ways. It is hard enough that his body fails him but so too it would seem his son? Indeed, a very hard burden.

Those lands of Meissen are very fragmented. It might be interesting if Eadward’s investigations could throw light on the general situation they find themselves in at the now. [OOC: That is, if you had any screenshots or save points from that time that could be used for such.] While those lands offer opportunity down the track when Oscytel inherits, they could also prove a distraction or worse - the dreaded continental entanglements, that become a bottomless pit one can throw troops and treasure into but never fill!

A bit of a newb/learner question: would granting an advance on the inheritance (ie a single county title of the precious few the King holds) bring Oscytel back to England, for game but particularly narrative purposes? Though in a purely game sense, I guess it probably has no great intrinsic merit, unless you want to farm out excess counties to someone you would ultimately control again, keeping them in the direct line of succession while avoiding the excessive demesne penalties. Not that it’s been a problem for the House of Wessex these many years!
Sadly, I have few screens of Meissen from this point in the game nor save games at this particular moment to assist. It gets a bit better a couple of years from now where I have saves from nearly every year. No doubt they are fragmented and only a look at @Asantahene' s Wessex AAR shows how much of a distraction continental land (especially within Germany) can be a real problem.

And an interesting idea with your question that I admit I considered at the time but did not do because, as you say, I can ill afford to grant away any crown land, however events in the near future will prove that point moot. Slight spoiler but it may not be what you think it is. ;)

Uhtræd's situation seems reminiscent of his father, as he laments a lost relationship with his sons. Though in this case it is arguably more painful as Uhtræd has really done nothing wrong, and has lost support from all of them it appears, whereas Eadgar only had issues with Uhtræd despite doing more despicable things. Though seems odd that Oscytel would not be more interested in England - it is a crown and at the very least would help in in time in Meissen (which my eyes! The border gore is real and horrifying).

Perhaps he lacks the foresight to understand his inheritance is at stake. He should be making a beeline for England instead of taking his sweet time.
Two very interesting points. I like the comparison between Eadgar and Uhtræd here and you are very right that they occur under different circumstances. It does make it doubly hurtful to Uhtræd.

And actually, your second follows from the first. Recall that when Uhtræd was first called back after Eadgar's death, the thought in Meissen (at least) was that England was a backwater compared to the central continental lands of Germany. It relates somewhat to real life concerns at the time in OTL (though we are a few years after the fact here) but remember that when the Conqueror died, his eldest son received what was considered the more important realm of Normandy while William Rufus got the inferior (supposedly) England. This would last through to Richard I who hardly ever stepped foot in England. Granted, the large Angevin Empire of the time, and especially his mother's Aquitaine, were considered far more rich and cosmopolitan than cold, rainy England but I would think a similar dynamic at work here in my story. Of course, much of the landscape is changed from OTL so I'm not sure that it corresponds directly, but that is rather how I have tried to write it.


To all - More excellent comments, folks. I might say enjoy that look at Uhtræd because there will be fewer scenes with him than you have been used to, but if they are all as sad as that, you might not wish so many of them so maybe it is a blessing. I'm slowly sort of building on his illness in a way that I hope plays believably so I hope it works. And the question of Oscytel is not going away anytime soon if that gives you all some idea of the direction that I am going. Of course, I cannot say too much, but let us just say that it is a wound that proves difficult to heal.

And a bonus for you (or not, depending on how you look at it ;) ) - my work schedule was changed up for today and tomorrow so I thought I might go ahead and get out the next scene today which would allow for one more before I leave for Colorado. As I mentioned, this is the one I was rather excited about (and the one that will follow on Monday is rather good too) so I am quite curious about the reaction. Give me a few moments and it will be up.

Finally, a continued thank you to everyone for following over and keeping with the tale. Not that I was less excited when writing the middle portion, but I have been tearing up the screen with writing this first part of Book 3 for weeks now and am already nearing 100 pages in my document. I don't know that I have written this furiously since I began the story in Rightful King. I could not do this without your support and thankfully, as I always say, I have the very best readers in all of AARland! :)
 

coz1

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The Heavy Crown


York, England – November 1129


Agatha of York drifted through the halls in her father’s keep with a bounce to her step. Newly come of age and into her own after seeing her sixteenth summer and now freshly matched with her intended, the young and dashing Gerbert de Normandie, it would seem that everything was before her. And yet, the smile upon her face belied an irritation within her as she was called to see upon her father Morcar in his private chamber...she refused to consider him Mark as so many others were caused to do. Even at her mother’s instruction, there was little Duchess Ida may do to change the girl’s opinion. With her usual quiet rebellion, Agatha’s outward sign was always of obedience, but inside she stewed with resentment of what seemed an honored past put aside for a weak and ailing King.

With her long auburn hair flowing behind her as she moved with swiftness, Agatha was caused to laugh a bit as she considered the irony. As much as King Uhtræd might be confined to his bed, or so she had been told, so too was her own father after a nearly deadly riding accident some few months past. Tipped over head first as his mount stopped short of a too high felled tree in the path, the Duke had broken his leg and nearly did the same to his other. Badly concussed at first, Duke Morcar had spent the better part of his recovery also to bed and did not seem to heal with any quickness.

Agatha rounded a corner and came upon his rooms, hesitating only slightly before she gave knock and then entered. As expected, Morcar lay there huddled under blankets to keep out the chill in the air, and yet his spirit seemed high and he smiled when he saw her, “Good daughter...I am thankful that you did not tarry. I wonder...may you pour you dear father a cup of that ale just over there?”

She gave her father a quick honored dip before doing as requested and handing him the cup she asked, “Do you be certain that this be your best course, father? Surely you may heal faster without the drink.”

Her father smiled, “I’ve little else to do but partake, dear girl, until I may get out of this bed.”

Agatha did not smile in return, “I be certain that we all wish you to rise, father. Mother has a great wish.”

“Your mother is a worrying sort,” Morcar answered before taking a fortifying sip, “But not you, my sweet Agatha...you have the strength of Hwicce about you and it pleases me.”

“I thank you, father,” Agatha dipped again, “Yet surely you do not call me to you simply to fetch you ale.”

Morcar allowed a laugh as he looked to her with a grin, “I do not. I am most proud of you and now that you are of age, I must speak with you on certain things. Yet first, I must know...how do you get on with your good husband?”

Agatha stood by the bed and offered a smile, “Gerbert is a fine man, gentle and with good humor. I like him well.”

“I am pleased that you enjoy the match,” Morcar answered as he gestured for her to find a chair and sit with him, “It was not an easy one to find. Yet I scoured the world to get for you the very best chance and this one comes with it a proud heritage.”

“Yes, father...” Agatha found a frown, “...a Norman heritage. I like him well, but I may not understand why you chose him above so many others.”

Morcar became serious, “He be a different sort of Norman, daughter. Like his father before him, this Gerbert and his older brother William look to England as their guide as Essex is truly their home. As grandsons of William the Red, they both show a remarkable transformation in just three generations. It is a far cry from their cousin Robert.”

“A man that you like not,” Agatha gave nod, “You have made your feelings plain about that Lord.”

“Indeed I have...” Morcar looked ahead, “...for he vexes me so. Here I be laid up and maimed while he serves the King and his Regent as he also finds his own pleasures back to his home.”


Agatha gave question, “Do you think him false, father?”

“I have that notion,” Morcar replied as he looked to her once more with a smile, “And that is much the reason I have wish to speak with you at the now. You are my heir, dear girl, and it is time that I teach you up in the ways of this realm.”

“I wonder why you have not done so already, father. Was it your hope for a boy?” Agatha answered with some spite.

Morcar kept his smile, “You have inherited the Hwiccian tongue, daughter, but I warn you...it may get you into some trouble if you do not use it wisely.”

She stood to refresh his ale with her own smile, “I am always my father’s daughter.”

“And proud am I, I say...” Morcar gave a thankful nod as she poured, “...for I have no need for a male child when I have you.”

“There is also Isabella,” she placed the pitcher aside and sat once more, “...and mother is still willing and able.”

Morcar took down more drink and then turned again with a smile, “Your tiny sister was a blessing as much as she was a surprise. It is not as though your mother and I have not made attempts, but I had little expectations after these many years. I did not think to have another child after my thirty nine years and was content to place all of my worth with you, dear girl.”

Agatha returned his smile, “And now you reach forty and find yourself abed. Surely you do not think to die at anytime soon, father.”

“I do not!” Morcar answered playfully, “And yet, I must make you prepared for the world that you will inherit when I am finally gone.”

“It will surely be changed much by the time that you pass from this mortal coil, father,” Agatha replied with a solemn face.

Morcar gave nod, “Mayhap...at such time you may find a German King who knows you not well. And the Lord Chancellor...the Regent at the now...”

“...the King’s brother,” Agatha suggested.

“Yes...” Morcar continued, “He be no young man either these days. I’ve little idea how he may smooth over such a transition as many of the great Lords do not fancy a foreign ruler.”

Agatha offered a curious brow, “What then do you suggest, father?”

Morcar looked to her with a serious face, “I would say to you two things, sweet girl...one, never forget where you come from. This be York that we occupy and in doing so guard the north for the entire realm. Though our lands are somewhat diminished, it would not take away from our proud heritage. We have seen Kings in our line and created the one you see now if it is to be believed.”

“Do you not believe it?” she asked with curiosity.

“I must, for it was my namesake so many years ago that pulled that old King Eadgar back from his exile and propped him up in Lincoln.”

Agatha nodded in agreement, “This is what my tutors have always taught.”

“Ah!” Morcar held up a finger, “Yet they leave out an important part...it was all a play to gain us the crown and King Morcar was a better player than all.”

“As I was caused to learn, he was a good Saxon King...” Agatha questioned, “...and yet, he did release the invader from his prison and in doing so provided for his own fall.”

Morcar found a frown as he thought about it, “My grandfather was a complicated man.”

“And what of your father?” Agatha interrupted.

“I could not say...” Morcar answered with sorrow, “...for I was but a newborn babe when he died.”

Agatha drew a sharp eye, “Do you not mean murdered? By our King?”

“Daughter...” Morcar looked to her with seriousness, “...this is why I speak these words to you now. You may look to the past to know where we belong, but you must not hold onto something that brings you nowhere. The future does beckon and we shall always rise again. These lands of York will grow whether it be under me or certainly you. Do not lose sight of what is ours.”

“You had a second piece of advice you did say,” Agatha responded with a slight sigh.

Morcar kept his serious face, “I did and it is this...when such time may come, you must look to our cousin in Mercia. She may be the only one you could trust. It will not be the crown and it would most certainly not be any member of the Godwin clan. At the now, they be an old man, a wife of the Regent, a foolish whelp and a young boy.”

“And of my husband’s clan?” Agatha asked with a hint of spite.

“You know well there,” Morcar answered her quickly, “These are not the same as those of old. Stay clear of Robert and keep to your own.”

Agatha found a smile, “And to cousin Wulfrun.”

Morcar gave nod, “Yes...though she and I have had our differences over the years, we all remain family and family must stay together. Now fetch me another cup, dear girl.”

She stood to find a fresh pitcher but instead eyed another pillow thrust aside while her father had slept. Frozen in her step, she thought about her dreams of the night before when she might finally come fully into her own as Duchess of the realm...or perhaps more. It was but a split second decision, but she lifted the pillow and turned back to her father, “You should be out of this bed, my Lord.”

There was only a moment to see the shock on Morcar’s face as the pillow came down over it and he began to struggle. At sixteen, Agatha was strong and her father crippled by his injuries. His hands grasped at her back as she pushed down hard and finally put her whole body against it but after some time there was less and less until finally Morcar’s arms lay limp at his side.

Agatha breathed hard as the adrenaline rushed through her and she finally stood back and looked to her father, lifeless in his bed.


It was not planned and she had loved him once. Now, she looked on with disgust. Never avenging his father’s murder, nor that of her great uncle. To give up a proper claim, even though he had tried to play and failed. Bowing down to a murderous King that would give them all nothing but a foreign Prince. What had her father ever accomplished? Nothing in her eyes.

She was sixteen years old and had her whole life ahead of her. A mind full of bravery where her father was considered craven by so many...a youthful vigor where her father was a maimed cripple. Surely she may accomplish more. If her cousin in Mercia might do it, then why not herself?

Agatha moved to pull the pillow from her father’s face and found a slight sadness as she looked on his wide eyes. She threw the thing aside and shifted to pull her hands over them so he may not look on the world any more. Long live Duke Morcar and death to Lord Mark. She would preserve a memory and not the reality, and when the King finally died himself...well, she would have to think about what she may do. But she was young and had time...

...Long live Duchess Agatha of York.

 

stnylan

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Oh my.

Well she is a chip off the old Morcar block, if ever there was. Or something like that.

Eadward must be aware.
 

Bullfilter

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On the earlier fb-fb: I did indeed have the current Wolf of Westseaxna and his inherited troubles with Saxony partly in mind when making that observation. :) Also what happened to England and its continental dreams in OTL and its subsequent policy of seeking (other from the technical exception of Gibraltar) overseas possession around the world but not on the continent. It has mainly intervened since to rectify what it sees as disturbances to the strategic balance of power (Napoleon, perhaps Crimea, WW1, WW2, Cold War/NATO) or really for colonial interests (Seven Years War). The list is not exhaustive nor researched, I hasten to add, just a quick grab off the top of the head. France, Germany, Russia, now ...? Hmm, not sure. Please discuss in 500 words. :D

The most recent attempt at a fuller integration with Europe (read ‘entanglement’ for this little digression) was the EEC/EC/EU experiment. And it proved so problematic for the British psyche that it ended (by a narrow national margin, to be sure) in Brexit. Case rested! ;)

On the current startling development: nice use of circumstances for a dramatic plot twist! :D Of course, all the world will think of it as natural causes - Agatha has ‘got away with it’. :eek: I wonder though whether, as time wears on, she will be haunted by ghosts: she has murdered her own father far more surely and cold-bloodedly than Uhtraed ever did Morcar’s. o_O If she is untroubled by such second thoughts, then woe betide anyone who gets between her and her objectives in the future!

As the life of the king winds down sadly and slowly, events beyond begin to spin faster and faster. The new crown is gaining weight every day ...