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    Real Strategy Requires Cunning

coz1

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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!”
 
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coz1

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So yes...another AAR by coz1. I cannot promise anything other than trying to get Eadgar on the throne of England. I've toyed around with this scenario a few times and it does not always work. But I thought it a worthy and certainly interesting endeavor. If nothing else, it gives me an avenue to write. Hope you folks enjoy. :)

[EDIT - Please note that a number of images in this work no longer show as they should due to changing of screenshot hosts. I have recently learned that a virus is associated with clicking on any of the links suggested and I caution you to NOT click on any one of those that do not show! I am in the process of trying to replace these shots but the manner in which I wrote the work at the time makes it more difficult to try and match what I intended (this was two years ago.) Thank you for your patience to anyone looking back or finding this for the first time. Thankfully the later images do show and continue through to the next two AARs.]
 
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Mr. Capiatlist

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You beat me to the "old guard reliving their glory days" schtick. ;)

I'll be around.
 

coz1

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How about a bit if fb-fb (wow...been a long time since I said that):

Looks like a cool AAR, will definitely follow this one
Thank you, sir. I hope it does not disappoint.

You beat me to the "old guard reliving their glory days" schtick. ;)

I'll be around.
Indeed, though I don't know about "glory days." I'm rather rusty right now. But I'd been thinking about this for a while now and figured why not just bite the bullet. No hopes to write the next great American novel here, but one needs to keep the muscles worked out and it's gotten rather "flabby." ;) Hopefully I can keep at it.

Let's see how far Eadgar gets towards that throne.
To be sure. It is not always successful. It happened for me once, but I was not even trying. Since then? I must have played five games and no good. I am playing this one fresh, so I have no idea of this time will be the charm or not. But even if unsuccessful, it might provide a fun little story.

Subbed, and wish Eadgar good luck.
Thank you as well. And Eadgar thanks you as he will need all the luck in the world.


To all - it is surely heartening to come back and start a new AAR some three years after the last attempt and know that readAARs are still there and ready for another story. Thank you all!

For those interested, this is vanilla CKII. No mods or added titles and such. I really don't play that often these days. Not nearly as much free time as I once had. But I enjoy CK more than many of the other games for the natural stories and characters they suggest.

And I have another short snippet to keep us going after this post. Still getting my legs back under me at this point, so no looooong entries yet...yet. :D

Allow a pass for the typo gun to do it's thing and it will be up. Thanks again, everyone.
 
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The Rightful King


Teviotdale, Scotland – April, 1067

Eadgar of Wessex stood in the training yard of his host with a group of younger boys. They were not yet of true fighting age, but neither was a nearly 17 year old Eadgar himself. His host, Earl Eadulf of Teviotdale was the spymaster of Lothian and trusted by the Duke Gospatric. Both men felt it was never too early to begin training in arms and the trust they showed to Eadgar was proof that age did not matter. Spirit, toughness and bravery were far better indications of worth.

“Keep your elbow in!” Eadgar bellowed to a boy not yet 12 summers in age. “If you don’t, you are sure to lose your arm in a wild parry.”

“Yessir!” the boy answered and pulled his arm to his side tightly.

“But allow the weapon to be an extension of the arm. Do not let fear keep you from having your strength at the ready,” Eadgar said as much to all the boys.

They all nodded with another “yessir” and went about their training again as the Marshal looked on.

The heavy set man could be heard wheezing before he was seen by Eadgar, but the young man knew the Earl’s sign and did not turn around as he welcomed him, “Good day, my Lord? What news?”

“What news, you ask?!” Eadulf was practically ebullient. “The King in the South is dead!”

Eadgar spun with swiftness and yet could not think of the words to reply.

“Indeed, a shock to be sure.” Eadulf looked past the young Marshal at his charges and then back to Eadgar with a smile.

“Well, what happened?”

“As you know, the Bastard landed near London at the end of the year. As the pretender Harald dallied around Derby acting out a siege with little stock, the King moved to his west and Duke Eadwin left the comforts of York to track to the east. They met near the outskirts of London last month.”

Eadgar scratched at the stubble on his chin, “I had figured that Eadwin had bested the Bastard.”

“That he did in January. But once William had his true strength, it mattered not that Harold had made what seems an unnatural ride to meet him. I am told the Bastard himself cut down Harold Godwinson and he is King no more.”

“But what does this mean? Has the Bastard proclaimed himself King?” Eadgar asked with no little amount of worry.

“He has done so, but none that matter will listen as yet. Those around the former King now proclaim his son, Godwine as liege.”

Eadgar spat upon the ground, “Be damned, the both of them!”

“Now, now…all is not lost. The boy is not yet 16 summers and there are many of the old Saxon nobility that still yearn for a return of the Wessex Kings. We must simply wait and see who bests one another…William the Bastard or Harald Hardrada. The boy is of no account, I assure you.”

The words sounded wise enough, but anger still filled Eadgar’s heart. For too long the House of Godwin had usurped his titles and lands. His host seemed to notice this anger and left him to his ruminations. But not without a parting word as he turned and began walking away,

“Patience is all that separates the hunter and the hunted, young man. Learn that lesson as you will need all you can muster in the coming months.”

Eadgar nodded as he watched his host walk back down the hill. He turned and spied his young charges, all standing at attention and awaiting orders.

“Well why in blazes are you lazing about?! Back at it!” he barked. They wasted little time in resuming their activities and he allowed a slight smile to escape his lips. He may need these young pups some day. Best they be well trained.
 
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Indeed, though I don't know about "glory days." I'm rather rusty right now. But I'd been thinking about this for a while now and figured why not just bite the bullet. No hopes to write the next great American novel here, but one needs to keep the muscles worked out and it's gotten rather "flabby." ;) Hopefully I can keep at it.
I haven't stopped writing and I feel flabby and as well versed as a troglodyte. ;) Hopefully though I can throw my hat into the ring of the "old ones rise" fight and get a new AAR going in a month or two after I play through some scenarios I've imagined.

That said, I like the Eadgar angle, not sure if it's been done before. Certainly not the character I would've expected. Enjoying the new take on an old story. ;)
 

coz1

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Bit more of the old fb-fb:

I haven't stopped writing and I feel flabby and as well versed as a troglodyte. ;) Hopefully though I can throw my hat into the ring of the "old ones rise" fight and get a new AAR going in a month or two after I play through some scenarios I've imagined.

That said, I like the Eadgar angle, not sure if it's been done before. Certainly not the character I would've expected. Enjoying the new take on an old story. ;)
Thanks, C. Look forward to you putting internet pen to internet paper again, as it were. As for this one, I believe I saw an early one that dealt with this, but perhaps as an afterthought. I just found him one day while playing as York (which I am actually doing again in this game) and the story just called out to me. Now I actually have to do that hard work of truly "developing" those characters. ;)

Glad to see you back in the saddle, coz1 :)

1066 England is a classic scenario with lots of possibilities. I'll be following the fate of Edgar and the House of Wessex with interest.
Good to see you along for the ride, Specialist! Please keep me honest. I won't mind if you tell me things are not quite up to snuff with my previous work, because I know it isn't. :eek: It may take me a bit to throw off the rust.


To all - I was finally able to get some solid play time in and can say we are up to 1070 in game. The bad news? The war is not over - with either invader. The good news? Lot's of juicy stuff I can use. :D I may or may not have an update later today. If not, I will work towards another tomorrow. Trying to come up with a heavy, and while I think I know who that will be, I don't have enough material to set things up like I like to. I'd say this is what happens when you don't plan well enough, but screw it - I'm just happy to be writing again. :)
 
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The Rightful King


York, England - August 1067

The Duke of York and Northumbria stood at the small eyelet in the corner of his small southern tower. The keep was not much to speak of, but it was the largest in his territory even if not nearly as large as those his brother Eadwin had begun constructing in Mercia. Theirs was a fierce rivalry. Both men were doing all they could to play the game as best they could while one man or the other would come out on top. Then the game would become real so they two could see who would be bested.

Morcar of House Hwicce watched as the lady moved with her retinue through the gates and came to a stop. He watched her closely as he did most people. Was she nervous? Did she seem haughty? The figure did neither but stepped off her mount with grace and made little time through the archway as he turned to wait for her entrance.

Leafing through some correspondence as he waited, he had not long before she was announced to him and he raised himself from his leaning position and stood as tall as he might to present the perfect figure.

“My lady,” he moved with swiftness to drape her arm over his and lead her to a seat by the very same window. “I do hope your travel was well met and no great hardship.”

The lady, Margaret, took the offer and seated herself before she spoke with a slight question, “And what is it that requires my travel when the winds have begun to haunt us day and night? I am sure this be about my brother, but I am unsure what it is that I may be able to do about any of that?”

Morcar made shift to pull some warm wine and offer it to the lady as he dragged a meager stool close and sat. “I simply hope that your visit with young Eadgar was a success. Was it so?”

She studied him closely. “I should think it was. It was most kind of you. Who would turn down an offer of funds when so needed?”

“Quite true,” Morcar responded as he leaned into her. “And how is the young lad?”

“As well as can be expected. I should ask the same of you? I understand our cousin of Godwin has you doing the dirty work in the south. How is it that you find yourself back in York when I understood you to be leading the relief of London?”

“A well met question, dear lady, and I will take no offense in the asking.” Morcar raised himself from his stool and went to pour himself a drought.

She wasted little time in adding, “It must be difficult, my Lord…so many months away and still your young wife remains without child.”

The Duke took his drink and then answered, “My Adelhaid misses her native land. Northumbria is not Hungary…my lady. Surely you can understand.”

“So you do not raise yourself as the rightful King…do I understand correctly?” she asked with sharp eyes.

Morcar turned on her with a smile like a hunter seeing his prey. “I have no need of such wishes, milady. No more than your meager husband. Does Godwine treat Hacon so well? I think not. Though he be cousin to our current King.”

The use of the word caused Morcar to grimace slightly and Margaret caught it and ran.

“Then why is it that I hear from Hereford that Eadwin’s men are caught short sighted? He is accused of corruption by none other than your spymaster, my Lord Duke. Can you say you have had none to do with that?”

“I can simply say that the men in my employ are doing their worth. I would ask none other, and nor should you. Do I detect a tone in your voice suggesting otherwise, dear Margaret?”

Morcar allowed his smile to beam as Margaret of Wessex rose from her seat and walked to look out the window herself. “My tone has only to do with my brother. I was married into this clan and I will do right by my wifely duties, but you know full well that Eadgar is the rightful King.”

She turned and watched Morcar’s expression and it did not change. She continued, “He is exiled in the north and no little or great amount of money will see him gain his birthright. None of us has.”

“My dear lady, I should think that has much to do with history and naught of my doing. I am simply trying to assist the young man as best I can. London will fall to the men I left there in due time. I come north to treat with you and see if Eadgar may wish to come home. I can do little for him when he is out of reach. The King of Scots keeps him as a pawn. I wish to assist him gaining that birthright.”

She looked at Morcar with cold eyes, but could not help but form a slight tear, “He is alone. I know. I am not sure what game you play, my lord Duke, but if you would have him at your court…”

“Say no more but to name it, my sweet girl. It would be my pleasure and utmost duty should he accept.”

Margaret turned again to look out on the land outside as she waited a moment to respond. Finally she turned again and knelt in front of Duke Morcar, “He would be your most trusted servant, my Lord. You may count on him to do your bidding as you wish and should he take his birthright, you would be his most trusted friend in this realm.”

Morcar smiled and begged her to rise. He kept her hands in his as he responded, “I should like that very much. Especially as our King has invited me to become his realm’s Marshal. I am to the south again very soon but please tell your brother to come here without delay. He will have a home here with us.”

The look of confusion on Margaret’s face soon melded with excitement. “You would do this for him?”

“Trust that and no other, dear lady.”

“How will your brother feel about such an invitation?”

“Worry not on that louse. I have him well met as much as he may think the same.”

“And the King?” she stepped back slightly. “How will Godwine feel about your kindness?”

“I should think the King would like it very much. Especially since He is coming home!”
 
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Good to see you along for the ride, Specialist! Please keep me honest. I won't mind if you tell me things are not quite up to snuff with my previous work, because I know it isn't. :eek: It may take me a bit to throw off the rust.
You do have one point in your favor -- it's been equally long since I've read anything you've written, so I'm still looking at your latest work partly through the rose-tinted glow of fond nostalgia ;) Nevertheless, should I find any real deficiencies, you may rest assured that I will pounce on them with my usual ruthlessness.

Morcar and Margaret's conversation is a nice little reminder that royal ambitions don't exist in a vacuum. Fairy tales may be full of displaced princes winning back their thrones purely on their native charm, skill, and cunning, but here in the real world, Eadgar is going to have to learn the dance of intrigue -- and particularly how to keep in step with men such as Morcar and Eadwine without letting them call the tune while he pays the piper.
 
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You do have one point in your favor -- it's been equally long since I've read anything you've written, so I'm still looking at your latest work partly through the rose-tinted glow of fond nostalgia ;) Nevertheless, should I find any real deficiencies, you may rest assured that I will pounce on them with my usual ruthlessness.

Morcar and Margaret's conversation is a nice little reminder that royal ambitions don't exist in a vacuum. Fairy tales may be full of displaced princes winning back their thrones purely on their native charm, skill, and cunning, but here in the real world, Eadgar is going to have to learn the dance of intrigue -- and particularly how to keep in step with men such as Morcar and Eadwine without letting them call the tune while he pays the piper.
I know you will do such, Specialist. And thank you for that. :)

And I like how you put that - indeed it is the real world. I am not one to shy away from the "uglier" side of things when I write. So far, it's just a bit of intrigue. How ugly may it get? ;)

To all - I've got another update ready to go once I hit it with the typo gun. They are starter to get a little longer...:rolleyes: Hey, it happens. :D
 

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The Rightful King


York, England – January 1068

The sun was setting on the horizon and the frost crept into the bones of every person standing there watching from a distance. In the early evening light that lingered, a figure could be seen trudging up the hill with a great deal of struggle. Behind him was the figure of the Duke on horseback, triumphantly holding a lead tied to his captive. The trail of Duke Morcar’s men following after seemed to last for miles.

At the peak of the hill, Eadgar of Wessex stood in silence alongside the Duke’s Marshal, Beorhtric and several others of the Duke’s household. The Marshal was not nearly so stone faced as he allowed a bright smile to grace his face.

“He has won!”

Eadgar nodded as he allowed a quick look to his elder and then went back to take in the scene as the traveling party finally came into clear sight. The struggling man wore rags wrapped over his body only barely and over these he was bound in heavy chains from his shoulders to his waist. He was barefoot and those feet were bloody from miles of an overland march. He took his steps slowly and with little deliberation. He simply kept moving as Duke Morcar slowly trotted behind him.

When the two parties were close enough to be heard by each other, it was the Duke that shouted first, “Behold the Mighty Osser! First of his name! Petty King of the Isles!”

Osser kept moving without showing any signs of recognition or distaste. Morcar kicked his mount to pick up the pace slightly as he made summit of the hill and pulled his prisoner to a stop.

“This is what comes when you ally with the Norsemen. The better part of his year has been wasted in trying to bedevil our good people of Northumbria and with naught but a fortnight; he has now wasted his life, as far as anyone may care.”

The Duke passed his lead off to a soldier as he jumped from his mount and immediately went to Eadgar of Wessex.

“I told you I would not be long. I was terribly sorry to miss the Mass of Christ but matters presented themselves and a good leader must lead.”

“It is no great worry, my Lord Duke. I completely understand.” Eadgar could not take his view away from Osser the prisoner.

Morcar noticed his fascination and laughed, “In truth, he should be far worse off after causing me to pull my men from the south. But it has allowed me to greet you as you should be greeted, my young Lord. I have tried to be as kind as possible, but the scoundrel does vex me.”

“As you say, my Lord Duke. And you needn’t have traveled so far just on my account. I did mean it when I said in November that your invitation was a kindness in and of itself. There was none more needed for me to know how well met I am in your presence.”

“Then once we have put this bloody bastard in our stocks, you will hopefully join me and my wife for a small feast to make up for the lack thereof earlier. I shall know it is no slight to you and be glad of it. I should think a hot meal just the thing, do you not think?” Morcar smiled again and clapped Eadgar on the back as he turned and began to bark to his men.

His men moved swiftly to take Osser off to God only knew as Morcar turned his back on the man and moved with speed towards the keep. Eadgar followed as he heard the Duke speak with his Marshal.

“My Lord, I am loathe to say but there is a fresh rebellion in Norfolk. The King has sent urgent word that you are to return south at once.”

“I am certain that he does. Much good that would do him. He can hardly lift a finger himself to protect what has been so lightly given.”

The Marshal nodded and as they reached the keep, Morcar threw open the door and turned to Eadgar, “Please, my Lord…enter my house now and forever for it shall always be a home for you should you wish it.”

Eadgar nodded in thanks and walked inside only to be greeted by Adelhaid, the Duchess of York and Morcar’s wife. He had met her in October when he first arrived at Morcar’s court. She spoke in a rough accent but had done well to learn her Lord’s tongue.

“My husband!” she called out in glee as she went to Morcar and he held her in a quick embrace.

“Be still, wife, and fetch our young man here a drink for we are thirsty.”

She did as told and Morcar threw off his cape, allowing Beorhtric to pick it up for him. He sat with a thud at the head of a giant wooden table and clapped his hands together, “Food! Now!”

As he gestured for Eadgar to sit with him, servants quickly moved into the room with an admittedly sumptuous looking feast. Morcar wasted little time in digging into his meal as his wife brought he and Eadgar each a goblet of mulled wine.

“It is wonderful to look on you, my Lord Duke.” she stated as she knelt at his side and patted lovingly at his arm.

“And you, my wife. Is there anything you wish to tell your Duke?” he looked at her with a glare that was not harsh but certainly not kind.

She lowered her head slightly and waited a moment before answering. “No, my Lord.”

Morcar allowed his face to curl for a moment before finding his smile again and looking back to Eadgar, “She worries that I am angry. Two years now, and still no offspring. She believes it is her fault.”

Eadgar smiled gently to them both, “I am sure the good Lord will bless you both when the time is right. I do hope it.”

“Indeed! This is what I tell her. And how am I to do my husbandly duty when I am forced to fight for such a loutish so-called King? I am to the south…I am to the north…I am to the west…”

“Quite, my Lord.” Eadgar took chance to take a bite and as he chewed he thought on the state of the realm.

“I deliver London back into Godwine’s hands and now, I hear that Norfolk rebels? There is none that wish him.”

“And the Danes, my Lord…” Eadgar broached the subject.

“They will do little but nibble even if they have joined this merry adventure. I worry not on their account, but it does keep Harald in the fight as he does none but harry in Derbyshire. Of more import to you, my young Lord is my useless brother.”

“How so, my Lord?” Eadgar asked as he had heard nothing of Eadwin of Hwicce since his arrival.

“It seems he has set up his own faction at court. He fancies himself King.”

The crestfallen look that took over Eadgar’s face allowed Morcar to bellow in great laughter, “Fear not, good sir! He will do nothing and more with this faction as not a man alive likes him or wishes him anything but ill. I, his own brother, hate him with a passion. I am not alone.”

Eadgar gave over a slight smile as he took a small drink and Morcar pulled his seat closer. The Duke grabbed the free hand and smiled wide, “You are home now! Protected and ready when this bloody scene is over. Fret not over that which you cannot control. I am to the south and will defend this realm…your realm…from all invaders. When the time is right, I will invite you to the field. Trust this!”

Eadgar nodded and thanked the Duke. Morcar made it sound so simple, but he knew that not to be the case. But he was happy to be home, or close enough to home that it felt as if a giant chasm had been crossed. He would wait as he had always done.

The Duke seemed to sense these thoughts and beamed as Morcar said, “The end is closer than you think, my young Lord. Your patience serves you well. Soon, so too will your fighting spirit. God knows we need such these days!”

Morcar roared for more drink and went back to eating as Eadgar joined him with some slight sense of reassurance and no little amount of fortitude for what was to come. He would be ready.
 
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Specialist290

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But is has allowed me to greet you as you should be greeted, my young Lord.
I have this sneaking suspicion you meant "...it has allowed me to greet you..." ;)

And so the dance begins. Morcar may be treating his young guest and royal claimant with all due politeness and respect, but already he's dropping hints of the sorts of concessions he's expecting if he succeeds in championing the Atheling's cause.

Also, interesting to hear the Danes have gotten involved. Is Estridson making his own play for the English throne?
 

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I have this sneaking suspicion you meant "...it has allowed me to greet you..." ;)

And so the dance begins. Morcar may be treating his young guest and royal claimant with all due politeness and respect, but already he's dropping hints of the sorts of concessions he's expecting if he succeeds in championing the Atheling's cause.

Also, interesting to hear the Danes have gotten involved. Is Estridson making his own play for the English throne?
Your sneaking suspicion was right on target as I was fixing that just as you posted. Apparently the typo gun needs to go into the shop for some repairs. It's as rusty as I am.;)

Indeed, Morcar is playing the perfect host...with perhaps a few strings attached.

As for the Danes, it was a bit of a throw away as they have done little or less in the northwest since they landed. But land they did with a sizeable force and allied to Hardrada. Who'd a thunk it? I'll try to sneak in a screenie of the situation in the next post or two as the war really gets involving soon. I hope the lack of screens doesn't turn too many people off but I really just want to focus on the writing without the bother of having to find just the right pic, resizing, cropping, loading, etc. There will be some, but not a lot.

And I have the next four or five posts fairly well mapped out. I figure four in four days is a goodly amount to get off to a start so today it's football (though not my Dawgs - thanks Hurricane.) Off tomorrow so I'll try and get some ground covered writing wise. Expect another update then.

Thanks for reading everyone, and many thanks for your comments. Don't ever be shy. I appreciate every one. :)
 

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The Rightful King


York, England – September 1068


The huntsman released the hounds when the scent was stronger than it had been all morning. Several roebucks had been spotted and now a fine stag was moving into position for Eadgar and Beorhtric to pierce if they could catch him. When it came into range, Eadgar had bow notched and at the ready. The barking of the dogs kept the stag spooked and skittish. When he finally let fly, it missed by just a few inches.

“He was yours,” Beorhtric softly sighed. “You nearly had him, though.”

Eadgar pulled another from his quiver as he spurred his horse to follow but the thick brush kept him from advancing much at all. The Marshal was behind him and pulled his horse to stop alongside that of the young man.

“Worry not. They are flushed and another will be by soon.”

“He had twelve points on him!” Eadgar exclaimed, clearly frustrated.

“A fine beast, to be sure.” Beorhtric shifted in his saddle to look back at the direction of the barking of hounds. “I should think there are others moving this way. Don’t you know of patience? I should think so, my would-be prince.”

Eadgar allowed his grimace to turn and gave out a slight laugh. “Indeed, sir. If I can wait out this war, then I can await the proper stag come my way.”

“You speak honest, my Lord. These simple pleasures are but a pastime while true events work to our south.”

The horse chuffed slightly at Eadgar’s urging but soon he had his mount working back into the open as Beorhtric followed.

“The King wishes to raise fresh levies from all the Lords in the land following Duke Morcar’s defeat of the Norfolk rebellion,” the Marshal continued as he trotted by Eadgar’s side.

“I should think he would. Harald finally moves south as William moves inland. Our good Duke can only do so much with what has been provided. How can he keep such forces in the field with naught to pay them?”

Beorhtric looked suddenly to his left but finding nothing turned back to Eadgar, “Our Lord was lucky to avoid Harald as long as he was able, but the battle of Oxford did not turn out well.”

“How well I know, sir. Harald has more than six thousand men on our Isle and we are hard-pressed to put even a thousand into play? No man can win with such odds.” Eadgar spit aside his horse as he pulled to a full stop.

He continued, “Our Lord was lucky to escape the clutches of the man, but there is little waiting for him in Wiltshire.”

The Marshal kept his gaze on the horizon as he watched for a further stag to push through the brush. “Still…William’s forces largely remain outside Westminster.”

“And Godwine assumes mercenaries will be his answer?”

“The Finnish Band may be more a labor of love than true mercenaries…” Beorhtric chuckled. His smile grew wider when he continued, “…but the bonus is that William joined them when those men attacked Harald.”

Eadgar’s eyes grew wide. “I did not know of this?”

“Indeed, the Bastard found his moment as much for him as it was for us.”

“And what of the result? I have heard none and not at all since last month!” Eadgar stood tall in his saddle with a strong look towards the Marshal.

“I cannot say all is well, my Lord. I have just sent word to our Duke that his brother has now been named Chancellor by our so-called King. Duke Eadwin could very well be working for himself.”

“Is he brokering with William directly?” Eadgar asked with no little amount of worry.

“I think not, my Lord,” Beorhtric answered as he kept his gaze toward the woods.

Eadgar pulled his mount in front of the Marshal to looked him squarely in the eye, “What is his game, then? It is clear he hopes to gain favor.”

Beorhtric starred back with an easy smile, “It matters not. Between William and Godwine’s hired hands, the Hardrada is left with only maybe two thousand men to prosecute his ill thought adventure. Our Duke has that many and more at his disposal.”

“He has not,” Eadgar was quick to correct.

“Aye, but he does young Atheling. True and more, William has twice that number attempting to take this hold or that in the south, but our Lord Duke has a better plan.”

At that moment, the awaited stag finally jumped into the road ahead of both men. Eadgar wasted little time notching his bow again and taking a shot. Much like before, the skittish deer attempted to move with speed but the arrow landed squarely in its chest. As it sputtered to a stop, Beorhtric smiled and looked again to the young would be King.

“Do that, and you have won.”

The look of disappointment on Eadgar’s face showed his mood, “What have I gained? He has but six points on him if he has one.”

“You have won, good sir, because our King calls out more men to fight his wars as I say.”

Eadgar allowed his irritation to show as turned in his saddle without a notion of the dead stag lying on the ground, “What good does this do me?!”

“None but cause our Duke to call out his own men. You included. I was waiting to tell you, but now is as good a time as any. Our supposed King has called up an additional five hundred men if he can find them. Duke Morcar has sent word that the good and true men of Northumbria and York are finally to see battle. He is calling up his own personal retinue and he wants you at the vanguard.”

The young Lord was dumbstruck. Beorhtric allowed him some moment to take it in and finally continued, “We will double the numbers our Duke has at his disposal and with the recent loss Harald has seen, we may well take this thing. Or part of it, at least. Shoot true as you have just done, and we may well see this thing through. Are you willing?”

Eadgar wasted little time answering “Yes!”

“Then see it all the way, my Lord. Now is the time to begin your ascendance. We are soon to battle. I’d say…be at the ready.”

Looking back to his recently downed stag, Eadgar nodded, “I am there already.”

“Good.” Beorhtric answered as he dismounted and pulled a blade. He wasted little time as he began to dress the deer. Bloodied, he turned again, “We meet in Lincoln within the month. We are to south!”
 
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Ah, the joys of a three-way struggle for the crown, where yesterday's enemy can become today's ally of convenience even if you're technically still enemies once the dust settles. Sounds like the Danish alliance ended up being something of a false hope for Hardrada and his men.

Meanwhile, it sounds like Morcar is finally making his play as kingmaker. Let's hope the Atheling shoots straight and true indeed, and avoids any slings and arrows that might be coming his way as well.