The Rightful King
Teviotdale, Scotland – 1066
Dogs barked outside as Eadgar of Wessex waited patiently in a hall for his liege lord, Duke Gospatric of Lothian. He listened with some interest as he felt very much as they must have felt – restless, eager, excited. They may wish for some new treat or adventure. He too wished for such but truly, he wished for what he felt was his from birth. He was the heir to a mighty kingdom on this Isle and apparently the Lords of London had proclaimed him so. Two invasions after the death of King Edward had complicated such a succession, and Eadgar was naught but 16. The Saxons had one idea, and many others had their own.
Eadgar was a stout young man, his bravery and diligence shown already to his host such that once in exile, he was immediately promoted to Marshal of a small southern province of Scotland. Gospatric had been a kind liege and valued his younger friend. While not equals in title, they were close enough in age that Gospatric had felt a kinship. He would allow Eadgar his word at all times, especially now with what was occurring south of his border. The King of Scotland was worried about an invasion himself. Gospatric was more worried about cross border excursions, and further, the potential loss of one of his brightest lights.
The din of noise increased outside as the very figure of his Duke roused Eadgar from his thoughts. He stood as Gospatric approached and his liege reached out his hand, “Good morrow, my lord. We have much to speak on. Pray follow…”
Eadgar did not waste time and moved to follow as quickly as he could. He allowed himself a moment to ask, “How goes it to the south?”
Duke Gospatric moved swiftly to a table laid out by his servants and took a cup quickly to his lips.
“Harald has lost in York! He moves south, but Eadwin is on his heels and should wrap him up soon.”
“Wrap him up, or stuff him for a time?” Eadgar asked.
Gospatric turned to look kindly on his servant but immediately saw the true interest. “You speak honest. Harald will not let go, and William has landed.”
Eadgar moved to the maps laid out on a table at the side of the room and began studying them intently. As Gospatric approached him, he turned quickly, “The Bastard will lay waste to the south as the bulk of the forces are in the north. Godwinson will not let up, but he cannot protect both.”
The Duke shifted to look at the maps himself and while studying them spoke without looking up, “You are correct, but what good does it do for you? Were you not hired as Marshal to forget such follies? After all, Malcolm the King looks to his south just as much as any of the others look to the north. There is little I can do. And you? Who is willing to press your claim?”
“None that matters,” Eadgar answered as he himself went to drown some few sorrows in the ale provided.
His Duke then took the moment to move to the young Marshal, “Eadgar…we have known each other for a long time now. Stay here and rise in these ranks. There is nothing for you there. Harald will not let up and the Normans have been pressing for too many years. The Godwin clan will fight as far as they can, but…”
Eadgar looked sharply to his benefactor.
Gospatric finished, “…You are here for a reason. The Confessor did not name you as a successor. You may have the name and pedigree, but you do not have the power and nor do I, as much as I may wish it.”
Sixteen summers had passed since Eadgar’s birth, and much else, but he could only stand silently looking again at the maps in front of him.
Finally he spoke, “Morcar does little to lift a finger, but I still count him as a friend. His brother does find himself defending the realm, even though it must kill Eadwin to come to such a defense in York. The Northmen are beat. So it is the Bastard that we must worry about.”
“And…” Gospatric tried to lead his younger friend.
“And we must wait.”
“Indeed,” his Duke finished. “Study under Eadulf in this realm and wait. Teviotdale is no bad place. If nothing else, you will find yourself gaining lands. We are not yet Saxon subjects, much less Normans or Norwegian. You will never be King of Scotland…and likely will not ever be King of England. But you have a place here. And I am happy for such. Do your best to enjoy that and let go of the past!”
Eadgar stepped back from the maps and moved to pour both himself and Gospatric another drink. As he held out the second cup, he could not help but say, “God bless Scotland. And God Bless the English for they are mine to rule.”
His Duke took his drink and smiled briefly, “If anyone could, I suppose it would be you Eadgar. But…”
“I do not think in such ways, Patric…” Eadgar said as he downed his own drink. “It is my birthright!”