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    Real Strategy Requires Cunning

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Back in the hunt with a scent to follow and blood on the trail.

Ofeig had better get used to people dying in battle.
 
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Seems problematic to replace a trusted loyal general with someone who has an potential grudge against the family. Promises of reward may work for a time, but can he be happy with just that, or will he get greedy for a replacement title eventually?

A feeling of pride warmed Fer-Fugaill and was about to speak when Sigeberht laughed, “Rædwald was extremely jealous of how your troops loved you.”
Sigeberht flashing that diplo skill. :)
 
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Back in the hunt with a scent to follow and blood on the trail.

Ofeig had better get used to people dying in battle.
Fer-Fugaill now has a purpose and a reason to be a good and loyal subject.

You are correct. Ofeig needs to get used to death around him. He is the king and it comes with the territory.

Seems problematic to replace a trusted loyal general with someone who has an potential grudge against the family. Promises of reward may work for a time, but can he be happy with just that, or will he get greedy for a replacement title eventually?



Sigeberht flashing that diplo skill. :)
Unfortunately there were not many other choices. The current crop of Jorvikian commanders is pretty mediocre. Sigeberht is the Chancellor so why not show that skill. :p

*****

Next chapter will posted shortly. I just have to finish the screenshots.
 
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Chapter 9.40 - 1039 – July – Jorvik

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Chapter 9.40

1039 – July – Jorvik


Under the hot July sun Ofeig and Mauda strolled through the courtyard. Forced out of the keep by the heat and humidity they sought refuge under the shade of the trees. Finding a spot with sufficient shade and a slight breeze they stopped and took up seats on the ground resting their backs on trees.

Mauda sat with her back against a tree and said, “I wish Arngrimr would move the court to Richmond in the summer. What is the meaning of having a keep in Richmond if it goes unused?”



Ofeig sitting against the same tree to her left chuckled, “In this heat Richmond may not provide much relief.”

Mauda made a face and replied, “At least it does not smell so bad.”

Ofeig nodded. What else could he do, “You speak the truth there.” He looked at the sky and silently cursed the lack of clouds. Trying to find a positive he said, “I am sure rain will come soon.”

Mauda scoffed, “It has been nearly two weeks since we have seen any rain. What makes you think it will come soon are you a magician?”

Ofeig chuckled, “I am far from a magician. I overhead some traders saying they have seen storm clouds over the ocean west of Ireland.”

Mauda nodded, “We can only hope.”

After a few moments of silence Mauda looked at Ofeig. The young king looked forlorn in his thoughts. Concerned Mauda asked, “What troubles you these days?”

Ofeig looked down at the ground and played with some nearby grass blades. He sighed and replied, “I find myself missing Öysteinn.”

Mauda frowned. She knew how much Ofeig had worshiped Öysteinn, “His death shock us all.”

Ofeig looked at Mauda, “Even after these long months since November I find rarely does a day go by which I do not think of him.”

Mauda nodded, “It is hard to lose such a great man.”

Ofeig’s face grew sterner and his eyes narrowed, “His death was needless.”

A little surprised at Ofeig, Mauda asked, “How was his death needless? He died leading his troops and saving his sons’ lives.”

Ofeig replied, “He died in a war that should not have been.”

Confused Mauda responded, “I do not understand.”

Ofeig tensed, “He died in a war your father was tricked into declaring.”

Now Mauda felt bad. Declaring the Wiltshire Claim War had cost her father his position as Regent of King Ofeig. Her feeling kept her from responding.

Ofeig looked at her and continued, “It was that Padern and his allies Ealhswith, and Vagn who trick him to back the war. Then they turned on him.”

Mauda took a couple of measured breaths as she recalled the events of the day her father was deposed as regent. She remembered the fear and uncertainty as if it happened yesterday. Holding back her emotions took most of her energy and she could only nod her agreement.

Anger flashed into Ofeig’s eyes as he spoke further, “They have shown no matter how hard we try we can never trust the Welsh and especially the Anglo-Saxons. They are continuously plotting one way or another to take away our kingdom.”

Hearing Ofeig, Mauda’s eyes widened, “You think all Welsh and Saxons plot against us?”

Ofeig nodded, “I am beginning to believe so. We give them titles and land, positions of importance, and treat them as our equal. How do they repay us? They plot and scheme constantly. They take rightful powers away from us.”

Growing uncomfortable Mauda responded, “How do you now this?”

Ofeig scoffed, “I have seen it. Look at how Padern, a Welshman, and Duchess Ealhswith, an Anglo-Saxon, plot to rule the council and direct the kingdom to their benefit. Other Welsh and Anglo-Saxons frequently side with them.”

Mauda was unsure and asked, “Who are those you speak of?”

Ofeig replied, “Jarl Ealdmund of Powys. He was once a friend of the king and now he joins factions to render us powerless. Even the Anglo-Saxon branch of the House of Hvitserk shows its distain for us Nordic and Irish folk. They fight their civil war in Gwynedd no matter how detrimental it is to the kingdom. When I have the authority I will appoint only Norse and loyal Irish to titles and lands.”

Mauda had become extremely uncomfortable as Ofeig spoke. She had learned how King Rædwald how tried to bring peace to the various races within the kingdom. His efforts were met with resistance and eventually lead to uprisings and civil war. She hoped Ofeig would not travel such a path. She needed a change in subject.

“What have you heard from the war? How is Fer-Fugaill faring?”

It took a moment for Ofeig to process what Mauda had asked. Once he did, he smiled. “The war goes well. There are no big battles as the English army is no more. Fer-Fugaill and the French Duke Arnaud of Burgundy laid siege to Wareham. After seven months the city was taken and Eadric Orsicsson, the heir to the Count of Dorset; and his governess, Balthild were captured. Fer-Fugaill has moved on and now besieges Sherborne.”





Mauda smiled and nodded, “That is good. What of the other army the one lead by Jarl Padern?”

Ofieg did not appear overly thrilled as he replied, “After far too long Padern finally captured Wilton. With troops from our Scottish and French allies he moved on to Ramsbury which fell surprisingly quickly. From there he marched to Sarum and took the city in short order. Now he lays siege to Clarendon which is the last English stronghold in Wiltshire.”



Without thinking Mauda said, “Padern has done well.”

Ofeig glared at her and with some venom in his voice responded, “Padern has had it easy once he finally took Wilton. Ramsbury and Sarum were undermanned and their defenses in a state of disrepair. Moving through Dorset Fer-Fugaill has to contend with a more prepared and determined foe. The defenses around their cities are well maintained and manned.”

In her defense Mauda replied, “I know Padern is not the better general.”

Now it was Ofeig who knew he had gone too far and needed to change the conversation.

“How does it feel to have your father home?”

Ofeig looked over the grass yard and asked, “How does it feel to have your father back?”

Mauda smiled, “It has been wonderful these last few months. I thank Sigeberht for his diligence in convincing Arngrimr to allow him to return to Jorvik.” Suddenly she grew somber, “But all good things must end.”

Concerned Ofeig asked, “Why say such a thing?”

Mauda frowned, “I will be sixteen in a week. The age where I can get married.”

Ofeig felt stupid for forgetting. “Oh”

Mauda continued, “I will be leaving for Germany and my intended husband King Gerhard soon after.”

Ofeig looked down. He realized how fond he had grown of Mauda and their friendship. “I wish you did not have to go.”

Mauda fought back a tear. She too cherished her time with Ofeig. “I too wish it weren’t so, but it must be done for the kingdom.”

Sometimes Ofeig regretted the actions required for the kingdom and had grown to hate that statement. “Will your father go?”

Mauda half smiled, “Yes, he will. He will stay for a time as your representative to the court of King Gerhard.”

Trying to sound cheerful, “Then it is not all bad.”

Mauda was not convinced, “It may not be then.”

Ofeig noticed a figure approaching them. He stood to get a better look and to be prepared for trouble if need be. Seeing him act so Mauda too rose.

“Who is approaching?” she asked.

The person came into focus and Ofeig replied, “It is Bishop Wistan.”

Mauda asked, “Wistan? What is he doing here?”

Ofeig shrugged his shoulders, “I know not.”

Just then Wistan reached them, “Milord, what are you doing here? Should you not be at your lessons?” He looked at Mauda. Mauda could see the distain in his eyes although he hid it well. She felt the bishop did not care for her since she was Rígán’s daughter and a bastard.



Authoritarianly Ofeig replied, “Our lessons were cancelled today due to the heat. We were here trying to find some relief from this ungodly heat.”

Wistan wiped some sweat from his brow. Ofeig thought the bishop must be crazy to wear his priestly robes in this heat. Wistan responded, “Ungodly, yes. This is the work of the Evil One.”

Mauda stood and brushed dirt off herself, “You blame this on the devil.”

Wistan shook his head, “No, Satan.”

Now Ofeig stood, “Are they not one in the same?”

Wistan rolled his eyes, “No they are not Satan created all that is physical. The earth, the sky, the weather. He trapped our angelic forms in these physical bodies so that we may not see God again. We are doomed to be reincarnated until we achieve salvation through the consolamentum.”

Ofeig and Mauda looked at one another in confusion. Ofeig looked at Wistan and asked, “What do you speak of?”

Wistan looked surprised and then regained his composure, “I sometimes forget you do not know the Truth. You are blinded and confused by the erroneous teachings of those who blindly follow the pope.”

Shocked Mauda responded, “Bishop Wistan, do you hear yourself? You speak against the Church and our Lord Jesus.”

Wistan shook his head, “I do not. I speak of a better understanding. Do you truly think Jesus could perform the miracles he did in this physical form?” pointing to his body. “I tell you he was not a physical man but a great spirit whose teachings show us the way to the consolamentum.”

Ofeig confused and growing a little frightened replied, “I do not understand.”

Wistan smiled, “Nothing to worry about I can show you.”

Ofeig gave a quick look at Mauda. Mauda stood there wide eyed in shock. Ofeig turned back to Wistan and said, “I wish you could, but I have weapons training that if I do not leave now, I will be late.”

Wistan said, “I thought you said your lessons were cancelled.”

Trying to recover Ofeig stumbled through, “Yes, the inside, the lesson taught in the keep were canceled. Weapos training is outside. Lord Tadg makes us train in all manner of weather. He says it keeps us true to the world.”

Wistan turned to Mauda, “What of you? Do you have to go?” Wistan truly wanted an audience to hear his new teachings.

Frigtened Mauda stammered, “I-I-I…”

Ofeig came to her rescue, “Don’t you remember you must find your brother Sigeberht as he has some important papers for you.”

Mauda nodded excessively, “You are correct. I had almost forgotten. I must go to Prince Sigeberht.”

Wistan nodded, “Then at another time.”

Ofeig and Mauda nodded. Wistan walked off down the path away from them. When he was out of hearing range Ofeig said, “We must find Prince Sigeberht.”

Less than an hour later they were in Sigeberht’s chambers. In great detail Ofeig deatailed their encounter with Wistan. Mauda who was still in shock did not speak. She nodded when Ofeig asked her to confirm what he had state. Through the telling of the chance meeting Sigeberht remained silent.

Once Ofeig complete his statement he expected Sigeberht to respond. To Ofeig’s surprise his uncle said nothing. He stood and paced about the room. He finally stopped with his back toward Ofeig. His hands were clasped behind his back. At one point Ofeig thought the prince was praying.

With a loud exhale Sigeberht turned and faced Ofeig and Mauda. In a voice filled with concern and sadness Sigeberht spoke, “Bishop Wistan has fallen under the Cathar heresy.”

With a questioning look Ofeig asked, “The Cathar heresy? I have never heard of it.”

Sigeberht frowned, “Unfortunately you will be hearing more and more of it, I fear. Many throughout the Isles are falling under its spell. Some say it has taken root in Scotland and spreads like a weed.”

Intrigued Mauda asked, “What is this Cathar heresy?”

Sigeberht shrugged his shoulders, “I know little of its heretical teachings and I care not to learn any.”



Ofeig asked, “Where did this come from?”

Sigeberht shook his head and said, “None know. Many believe it started in Aquitaine or Burgundy. The pope has declared it a heresy and must be wiped out.”

Curious Ofeig asked, “What happens next?”

Sigeberht looked at Ofeig and replied, “We must report this to the Archbishop.”

Mauda took her turn, “Then what?”

Sigeberht frowned, “Wistan will be arrested. If he does not recant his heresy he will be imprisoned and could face death.”

Ofeig and Mauda nodded their understanding.

Sigeberht gathered some things and said, “Now if you excuse me, we must find the Archbishop.”

Surprised Ofeig asked, “We?”

Sigeberht nodded, “You will need to tell him what happened.”

Ofeig was distressed about telling the story to Archbishop Eastmund. Living through the encounter had been stressful, telling the tale to his uncle had been close to terrifying. Now having to repeat the story to the most powerful man in the Church truly terrified Ofeig. What Ofeig was about to do could cost Wistan his life. While Ofeig did not trust Wistan and many times seemingly hated him for siding with Padern. Having the information that could lead to the death of a person who had known for many years made him uncomfortable to say the least.

Ofeig asked, “Do you think the heresy is why he had sided with Padern?”

Sigeberht stopped at what he was doing and looked at Ofeig. After a moment of thought he replied, “Could be. We knew Padern had some damning information about Wistan and was using it to force his allegiance.”

Innocently Ofeig asked, “Do you think if he abandoned this heresy, he would join with us again?”

Sigeberht took a measured breath and answered, “I know not. Many times, people do not abandon their heresies.”

Angerly Mauda responded, “The traitor deserves no favors. He betrayed my father and I shall never forget or forgive.”

Ofeig and Sigeberht looked at Mauda surprised at the anger and hate in her voice. Ofeig looked at Sigeberht and asked, “What will happen next?’

Sigeberht frowned, “I think we will need to appoint a new Court Chaplin.”

The three left the prince’s chambers and made their report to Archbishop Eastmund. Later that day Wistan was confronted. When he did not deny his beliefs, he was arrested and thrown in the dungeons to await his fate.
 
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I think Padern & co have fundamentally underestimated the young King. I am trying to remember if any of them realise just how much Ofeig has pieced together. If they haven't they might get a rude awakening within a few years.

Much, one is tempted to say, liek Wistan is about to get.

I like the contrast here as well between Ofeig confident and aggrieved when he speaks of Padern et al, to confused speaking first to Wistan and then to Sigeberht. It very much shows his youth - but also his increasing age. One cannot imagine the Ofeig of even a couple of years ago challenging Wistan in quite that way, or having the confidence of his conversation with Mauda.
 
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Sounds as if Ofeig is setting up for a rather ugly purge - both of his council and his kingdom, if he is intent on getting rid of the Welsh and Anglo-Saxons. But I also wonder how he'll deal with yet another loss, as Mauda is off to the continent. Will he be further hardened and embittered? It could prove unfortunate for many in the kingdom - especially those mentioned before.
 
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I think Padern & co have fundamentally underestimated the young King. I am trying to remember if any of them realise just how much Ofeig has pieced together. If they haven't they might get a rude awakening within a few years.

Much, one is tempted to say, liek Wistan is about to get.

I like the contrast here as well between Ofeig confident and aggrieved when he speaks of Padern et al, to confused speaking first to Wistan and then to Sigeberht. It very much shows his youth - but also his increasing age. One cannot imagine the Ofeig of even a couple of years ago challenging Wistan in quite that way, or having the confidence of his conversation with Mauda.
Padern is slowly losing influence in the Council. Losing Wistan removes support from his side. Ofeig is growing up for better or worse.

Sounds as if Ofeig is setting up for a rather ugly purge - both of his council and his kingdom, if he is intent on getting rid of the Welsh and Anglo-Saxons. But I also wonder how he'll deal with yet another loss, as Mauda is off to the continent. Will he be further hardened and embittered? It could prove unfortunate for many in the kingdom - especially those mentioned before.
Time will tell how far Ofeig goes but I will say being Norse in the kingdom is a better thing in the coming years. Without friends to help shape his opinions Ofeig is becoming very one sided. Sigeberht can only do so much but the boy Ofeig needs peers he can trust and being "protected" by the regency will not allow that.

*****

I just finished the final edit of the next chapter. I need to add some screenshots before posting. If all goes well it should be up some time on Sunday.
 
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Chapter 9.41 - 1039 – August – Wiltshire – Clarendon

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Chapter 9.41

1039 – August – Wiltshire – Clarendon


Jarl Padern stood in the Council Chambers of the city hall of Clarendon, flanked by his commanders Arnvid, and Count Yngvar of Lincoln. Standing nearby was Duke Gauthier of Poitou, the commander of the French troops since King Nicolas had departed to join Fer-Fugaill’s army in Dorset. Talking with Gauthier was Chief Andrew of Dunollie, commander of the Scottish troops.



Padern looked anxiously around the room and at the doors to the rear of the room. His army had stormed Clarendon earlier in the day. Upon accepting the surrender of the city, he was informed a party from King Humbert wished to meet with him to discuss ending the war. He agreed and now waited anxiously for their appearance.



A sound to his left caused him to quickly glance in that direction. There he glimpsed Count Hereweald of Oxford followed by Maud Hvitserk, daughter of the late Jarl Hlothere of Gwynedd, trying to enter the chamber unnoticed. At one time they had aided him in his successful plan to remove Rígán as regent. Now he held them in contempt. Their little war had turned into a full-fledged disaster. Jorvik’s best general had been killed and Padern was forced to leave the comforts of court to command an army.



Looking at them wearing armor and swords Padern shook his head in disgust. Neither had been in battle, or in the field with their troops. Hearing Clarendon was ready to fall they appeared in camp. They did not share the same accommodations that their soldiers or Padern lived in. Instead they had secured rooms at a large manor several hours from the siege.

Under his breath Padern muttered, “Glory hounds.”

Not expecting anyone to hear he was surprised when Arnvid replied, “We do all the killing and dying, and they take the honors.”

Padern was about to respond when a commotion at the rear doors caught his attention. With a surprising amount of fanfare, the English party had arrived. Entering first was Baron Eadberht of Taunton, Chancellor for King Humbert. He was followed by the Marshal of England, Count Swithelm of Wiltshire. Swithelm stood to lose the most in the coming negotiations as the future of his title would be decided.




There were several gasps from the Jorvikian delegation as the third Englishmen. Dressed in plain armor with an old dirty cloak over his shoulders walked Ealdmund Osheresson. Padern’s eyes followed Ealdmund as he traversed the room. Padern could not help to wonder what the best general the English had and the man who a civil war currently raged to make him King England was doing here. Padern knew Ealdmund had nearly brought about a White Peace to the war and if had not been for the sudden death of Lord General Öysteinn to Ealdmund’s army it would have happened.

Reaching Padern Eadberth and Swithelm exchanged greetings with the Jorvikians. Ealdmund remained silent in the background.

Eadberht began the negotiations, “I have been authorized to negotiate in the name of King Humbert.”

A sarcastic grin came to Padern’s face as he replied, “There is nothing to negotiate. Your army is destroyed.” He looked at Ealdmund, “Scattered to the Irish winds.” Ealdmund showed no emotion and Padern returned his gaze to Eadberht.
“Your cities fall to us one by one. Soon you will have nothing.”

Trying to remain stoic Eadberht responded, “Nevertheless, terms?”

Padern smiled, “The same as expressed in the declaration of war. The usurpation of the County of Wiltshire by Maud Hvisterk.”

Swithelm appeared to want to respond but Ealdmund stopped him by grabbing his arm. Ealdmund leaned over and whispered something to Swithelm. Swithelm looked at Padern and then looked at Maud. His eyes were full of hate, yet he remained silent with his fists were clenched until his knuckles were white.

Eadberht looked at Ealdmund. Without showing any emotion Ealdmund nodded.

Padern wondered who Eadberht was truly representing, King Humbert, or the likely future King of England.

Eadberht took a deep breath and then spoke, “You give us no choice.”

Smiling Padern replied, “You might say so.”

Somberly Eadberht said, “I suspect you have documents already drawn up.”

Padern chuckled, “Of course.”

Padern clapped. Several scribes appeared carrying documents. They laid them out a table several servants brought into the room. Ink and wax for sealing was made ready. When all was ready the lead scribe nodded to Padern.

Padern directed Eadberht to the table and the documents. Without saying a word Eadberht signed and sealed the documents. Swithelm followed. The entire time Swithelm was at the table and when he was not looking down to sign the documents he glared at Maud. Lastly Ealdmund signed.

Once the English stood away from the table Padern approached and signed. He was followed by Gauthier and Andrew. Hereweald and Maud then signed the documents.

The scribes fanned the documents drying the ink. Once the ink and wax were dry the scribes neatly rolled up the documents, eight in all. One was given to Eadberht and another to Swithelm. Padern, Gauthier, and Andrew received one each to take back to their respective kings. The eighth and final document would be sent to Rome for the Pope.

As the English prepared to leave Padern spoke, “I have a question.”

Surprised Eadberht looked at Padern and replied, “What is your question?”

Padern grinned evilly, “Will the documents you carry be taken to your king in his refuge in Bath or will it remain with one who is here?”

Eadberht began to answer but Ealdmund cut him off, “My dear Lord Marshal of Jorvik such matters are not your concern.”

Padern looked at Ealdmund, “I beg to differ. The happenings in your insignificant kingdom are a concern to the court at Jorvik.”

Ealdmund looked at Padern and replied, “Careful Welshman you forget your place. Lapdog tell your Northmen masters not to interfere in English affairs any further. They will not like the consequences.”

Ealdmund turned his back to Padern and exited the chamber quickly. Red in the face with anger Padern held his tongue and glared at the Englishman.

Once the English had left the room Padern turned to Maud and asked, “When will you swear fidelity to Duchess Ealhswith?”

Maud looked at Padern, “Never.”

There were gasps from many still present. Padern stood and looked at her with no emotion showing, “You do not disappoint.”

Maud smiled, “Without any oaths I am under no obligation. Then again you know that.”

Padern looked at Maud, “Yes, I did. But know countess if you are in trouble expect no help from Jorvik.”

Maud scoffed, “Help from Jorvik is something I will never want or need.”

Padern shook his head, “Have it your own way, countess. We are not your only enemy.”

Maud smiled and left the chamber. For one of the few times Padern felt regret over his actions. He knew one day he would have to come for her for her sake and the sake of the kingdom.



Padern was brought back from his thoughts by a stunned Hereweald who asked, “Are you going to allow her to do such?”

Padern looked at Hereweald, “I have no recourse. Something you should have known before you started this misadventure.”

Shocked by Padern’s response Hereweald said, “I know not what you speak of.”

Padern shook his head and scoffed, “If you do not you are a bigger fool than I thought.” He leaned into Hereweald and continued, “Maud was not your vassal, and neither was she a vassal of King Ofeig or Duchess Ealhswith. She was under no obligation to be their vassal.”

Hereweald babbled, “Her father was Jarl Hlothere of Gwynedd.”

Padern shook his head, “You are truly a fool. He no longer rules.”

Hereweald stood with his mouth open. Slowly his hand crept down toward his sword as Padern turned and walked away from him. Hereweald stewed. The insult must be paid for.

Yngvar stepped toward Hereweald and said, “Do so and your blade will not clear its sheath before you are choking on your own blood.”

Herewald took one look at Yngvar and his eyes. The Count of Oxford moved his hand away from the hilt of sword. The Jorvikian party and their allies left Hereweald standing alone in the empty chamber quivering in both fear and anger.
 
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Padern is getting increasingly adept at crafting enemies he really doesn't have the capability to handle.

It is so sad to see the legacy of Emrys be thus, but that is sometimes the way.
 
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Single county wars in CK2 are such a poisoned chalice. You usually only attempt them as a kingdom if you think it's going to be easy, but half the time it ends up hitting you far harder than you'd expect. Did I understand correctly and Maud is independent as well? Cause that makes it even worse!
 
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Padern is getting increasingly adept at crafting enemies he really doesn't have the capability to handle.

It is so sad to see the legacy of Emrys be thus, but that is sometimes the way.
Padern is collecting enemies and he has destroyed what his father and grandfather built.

Single county wars in CK2 are such a poisoned chalice. You usually only attempt them as a kingdom if you think it's going to be easy, but half the time it ends up hitting you far harder than you'd expect. Did I understand correctly and Maud is independent as well? Cause that makes it even worse!
I try to avoid single counties wars but sometimes you can't. I still don't know why I went for this one. Did make for an interesting story, however.

Yes Maud is independent.

*****

Working on the next chapter. Editing has taken me longer than planned. If all goes well it will be up sometime this weekend.
 
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Chapter 9.42 - 1039 – November – Jorvik

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Chapter 9.42

1039 – November – Jorvik


Sigeberht cursed the cold, cruel gray November sky he observed from the window of his chambers. For weeks, Froði and he met trying to weed truth from the ever-increasing rumors of plots and schemes circulating in court and out on the streets of the city. Council, nobles, commoners, all were on edge waiting for the proverbial ax to fall. The refusal of Countess Maud of Wiltshire to accept Duchess Ealhswith of East Anglia as her liege had shaken confidence in the Regency Council and young King Ofeig. Dissatisfaction and mistrust ran rampant through the lords of Jorvik.



Sigeberht clenched his fists and teeth against unseen enemies. The discord of the lords birthed many factions. He spent plenty of his waking hours appeasing this lord or that lord. Most days he felt the task insurmountable. He wondered how much longer he could stave off these parties. Bribes and promises go only so far. Deep down, the prince expected a demand letter any day.

Sigeberht turned from the window and walked to a table. He reached for the pitcher resting on it and poured himself a goblet of wine. Lifting the drink to his mouth, he drained it in three large gulps. Finished, he slammed the goblet onto the table in anger and frustration. Sigeberht had to tolerate two of the conspirators of the strongest faction during every council meeting. Jarl Padern and Duchess Ealhswith threw the strength of their positions and lands behind the effort to Increase the Power of the Council. He knew they sided with the faction to protect themselves. By requiring the king to get permission from Council to declare war, they could prevent him from declaring it on them in retaliation for their transgressions against the crown.



The Marshal and the Spymaster used the recent troubles regarding Wiltshire to gain sympathy and allies. They molded themselves into the victims of the war. Padern the reluctant Marshal tricked by the then regent Rígán into fighting the war. Ealhswith the duchess betrayed and humiliated by Maud and her refusal to recognize Ealhswith as her liege. Sigeberht had grown accustomed to Padern and Ealhswith and their games, but they now reached a new low.

Sigeberht gulped down another drink of wine. As he finished, he resisted the urge to throw the goblet against the wall. The latest betrayal had come at the hands of his younger brother. Bringing Eilif aboard Council as an Advisor was to counter to Padern and Ealhswith. To Sigeberht’s dismay, the Jarl of Northumberland had other ideas. He cast a covetous eye toward Sigeberht’s own lands in Ireland. Sigeberht was sure Padern schemed with Eilif to support Northumberland’s claims. A Northumberland victory meant removal of Sigeberht from Council. As his brother’s vassal, he could no longer serve the crown as Chancellor.



The prince leaned on the table, feeling the effects of two goblets of good French wine consumed in a brief period. He cursed Countess Katarina of Hereford, the leader of the faction. Katarina has been a thorn in the crown's side since she became countess in her own right. She plotted against Sigeberht’s father, King Rædwald, and Sigeberht’s brother King Eadweard. Now she schemed against King Ofeig and his Regency Council. Sigeberht tortured himself, reasoning a justification for her actions. He knew of her grudge stemming from her father’s sudden death at the hands of an unknown assassin. Katarina blamed Rædwald for the death, saying the king grew jealous of Sumarliði’s successes on the battlefield. There were also the unexplained deaths of two of her sisters and brother before they reached the age of two. Rumors hinted King Rædwald accused her mother of murdering her siblings, giving the countess another reason for her hatred of the crown.



Sigeberht stood straight and shook his head. After her birth, her father sent Katarina to live with her mother’s family in the court of Count Åke of Westmorland. Westmorland, he knew, was another quagmire created and nurtured by his father. Rædwald had appointed Åke as Spymaster and later as count rewarding him for his service to kingdom during the Jorvikian Civil War. However, as Rædwald’s madness grew, so did his unfounded mistrust of Åke. In a fit of madness, Rædwald fired Åke. Åke humiliated and betrayed, his loyalty to the throne waned and he joined faction after faction. Upon his death, his underage daughter Wulfwynn became the countess. Raised in a household where mistrust and growing hatred of the House of Hvitserk festered, following Katarina’s lead was not a surprise.



Sigeberht poured a third goblet. This time he drank with restraint, taking only small swallows. He directed his ire at the final conspirator, Countess Wulfrun of Leicester. Again, her grievances spawned from King Rædwald and the Jorvikian Civil War and its aftermath. Rædwald granted Leicester as a gift to her father, Harold, for his service during the rebellion. Harold’s undoing was being a secret follower of the Orthodox fate. Upon discovering Harold’s secret faith, the king tried to force him to convert to Catholicism. Harold resisted until his death. A death many say resulted from the pressure placed upon him by Rædwald. With Wulfrun underage, her handlers continued the resistance under Rædwald and later Eadweard. Wulfrun attempted to continue the resistance when she came of age but she could not as Archbishop Eastmund of St Peters, the nominal head of the Catholic Church in Jorvik, and Bishop Wistan of Burton, the Court Chaplin mounted a relentless and successful campaign to purge Leicester of the Orthodox faith.



Sigeberht held his goblet up in a toast saying, “Thank you, father.” He finished the wine and dropped the goblet to the table. The cup bounced as it hit, landing on its side. “I lay this mess at your feet.”

Sigeberht turned back to the window, cursing the gray skies. He turned back from the window, hearing the door fly open. In rushed his nephew. King Ofeig looking flushed. Sigeberht sighed. Far too much was being asked of his thirteen-year-old nephew. The boy was being forced into manhood far before his time.

Sigeberht regarded the underaged king and said, “I am sorry.”

Confused, Ofeig replied, “Uncle?”

Sigeberht frowned, “It is my duty to prevent what is happening, and I have failed.”

Still catching his breath from his hurried journey here, Ofeig asked, “How have you failed me?”

Sigeberht looked down, “I have allowed these factions to gain strength. Now they are too powerful to stop.”

Now Ofeig understood, “Uncle, you are but one man. What can you do against the throng amassed against us? We have all fallen victim to Jarl Padern and his deceits and schemes for many years.”

Sigeberht gazed at Ofeig. Yes, the boy was becoming a king.

“A demand letter will arrive soon from Countess Katarina demanding giving the Council more power.”

Ofeig nodded, “What does that mean?”

Sigeberht narrowed his eyes, “You will lose the privilege to declare war without the approval of Council.”

Ofeig took a deep breath as his uncle’s words sank in, “What happens if we refuse the demand?”

Sigeberht looked as if he was in pain, “Rebellion. Civil war like what happened in the first years of the reign of King Rædwald.”

Ofeig leaned against the table, “Can we win such a war?”

Sigeberht shook his head, “Unlike Rædwald, you lack the backing and trust of many of the lords of the kingdom. Of those who remain loyal, few will provide their full levies. The forces of East Anglia and Deheubarth are formidable. Nor can we ignore Hereford and Leicester. You have Jorvik, Lancaster, Mercia, Gwynedd, Powys, Mann, and the Irish counties. A powerful force on its own, but the treachery of my bother Eilif gives the faction Northumberland. Their numbers will be too great.”

Ofeig grimaced as if someone had kicked him in the gut. “What of mercenaries? King Rædwald used them.”

Sigeberht shook his head, “The treasury today is far smaller than Rædwald had.”

Desperate for a solution Ofeig asked, “Allies?”

Again, Sigeberht shook his head, “Very unlikely Scotland or France will not become involved in such an internal matter.”

Ofeig was about to say more, but Sigeberht held up his hand, stopping him. “It is a moot point. With Eilif, Padern will have four votes. Ealhswith and Vagn will vote with them to agree to the demands. Froði and Arngrimr do not want a civil war so they will either abstain or vote to accept.” With a sad face Sigeberht looked at Ofeig, “I am sorry, Your Grace.”

Ofeig dropped his head, looked at his uncle, and left the room. Sigeberht righted the goblet and filled it. He raised it and drained it in one long swig. This time he did not hesitate. He hurled it against the wall, breaking the cup into two pieces at the stem.

*****

Sigeberht’s prophecy unfolded within a week. The Chancellors of Hereford and Westmorland arrived carrying the demand letter forcing Arngrimr to call an emergency council meeting.

To everyone’s surprise and against the advice of his uncle, Ofeig attended the meeting. Sigeberht stopped the young king as he entered, “You know this will not go well. Your presence will not alter the outcome.”

Ofeig nodded, “I know.”

Sigeberht asked, “Then why?”

With venom in his voice Ofeig replied, “I wish to see their faces as they betray me. I want to remember this moment and I want them to remember it. So, when I come seeking my vengeance, they know why.”

An icy chill ran up Sigeberht’s spine. He had not known the young Ofeig capable of such malice.

Sigeberht started his reply, but Ofeig pushed past him. The place grew quiet as every eye followed Ofeig walking across the room and taking his seat. None had expected him to attend this meeting, giving its hopelessness.

After each council member took their seats, Padern stood, “I again raise my objection to Ofeig being present at the Council meeting. Arngrimr is his regent and speaks for him. He is only a distraction.”

Sigeberht reared up with anger in his face, “I believe we settled this matter before. It is our tradition once the King or Crown Prince reaches the age of thirteen, they may attend any Council meeting at their discretion. I remind all this is a tradition begun by Halla, the regent of King Knut and made into law by the same King Knut himself.” He looked at Padern, “Do you wish to go against the wishes of King Knut?”

Padern shook his head no and returned to his seat, as did Sigeberht.

Now Seeing all was in order, Arngrimr nodded and ordered, “Bring them in.”

First into the chamber was Bishop Holmger of St Ethelberts, Chancellor of Hereford, carrying a document. Bishop Ealdwine of Cartmel, Chancellor of Westmorland, followed him. Ealdwine halted at the end of the table while Holmger continued. The bishop stopped next to Sigeberht. Holmger stated, “As Chancellor of Countess Katarina I deliver this letter to Prince Sigeberht, Chancellor of Jorvik.”

Sigeberht did not rise nor look at Holmger. He raised his hand and over his right shoulder took the letter from Holmger’s outstretched hand. Sigeberht placed the document on the table before him and made no motion to open it. Holmger returned to Ealdwine and stood beside him.

A deafening silence filled the chambers. In frustration Holmger said, “Since the Chancellor refuses to read the letter I will announce what it says. Countess Katarina of Hereford, Countess Wulfwynn of Westmorland, Countess Wulfrun of Leicester, Duchess Ealhswith of East Anglia, Jarl Padern of Deheubarth, and Jarl Eilif of Northumberland demand King Ofeig or his regent agree Council shall have the power to approve or reject any declaration of war.”



When Holmger finished Sigeberht passed the unopen letter to Arngrimr. Arngrimr took it and opened it. He read the letter and sighed.

“We must now vote to accept or reject the demands of this letter,” Arngrimr announced.

The vote went as Sigeberht had foretold. Padern, Ealhswith, Eilif, and Vagn voted to adopt the demand. To no one’s surprise, Arngrimr also voted to comply. Froði shocked those present also voting to comply. Only Sigeberht voted to turn down the demands. The tally was six to one.

As each member voted Ofeig took them into his gaze, a gaze meant to make them uncomfortable.

With the voting completed, Arngrimr announced, “The Council’s decision is to grant the demands of Countess Katarina. The Council may now approve or deny the king a declaration of war.”

Holmger and Ealdwine swiftly departed the chamber, Padern, Ealhswith, and Vagn slipped out of the hall through a side door. Froði apologized to Ofeig and left with his head lowered. Sigeberht, Eilif, and Ofeig remained in the room.

Sigeberht stormed over to Eilif.

“I cannot phantom the betrayal you have perpetrated on your family, brother.”

Eilif remained seated and did not look at Sigeberht. “I betrayed no one. I protected us from the madness and tyranny our father and brother brought upon our kingdom.”

Exasperated, Sigeberht asked, “How do you justify such a statement?”

Eilif glared at his oldest brother, “I took away the one power father and Eadweard wielded that nearly ruined this kingdom.”

Sigeberht slapped Eilif, “You are a disgrace.”

Eilif jumped to his feet. Ofeig thought they would come to blows. Instead, Eilif brought his face close to Sigeberht’s until their noses almost touched. Through clenched teeth Eilif replied, “Careful big brother. In here you are influential.” He waved his arms towards the door and windows, “Out there I hold the power. My levies of Northumberland are many times more potent than your puny one county Irish jarldom.”

Eilif pushed past his brother and stormed from the chambers. Sigeberht let out a primeval yell and kicked Eilif’s chair onto its side. Without saying another word, he too marched out of the chambers.

Amazed and unnerved at what he witnessed, Ofeig sat with his mouth open wide. He slowly rose from the chair and making almost no sound he walked toward the main doors. He moved as if he was trying to evade an evil spirit waiting in ambush for him.
 
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The young King will remember this day I am sure.

I like the invocation of history - a reminder to Ofeig of his lineage of what he may yet achieve?
 
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An interesting turn of events. On one hand, this could prove to be a boon for the stability of the realm. The council seizing the power to declare war means council members can't join factions now! Toss two powerful vassals on the council and the realm's basically revolt free (at least against the king) for the rest of the reign.

On the other, it gives Olfeig the desire for payback against a whole lot of people. Which can be fun, since if timed right, you could fracture the realm piecemeal or just blow it up at the right time intentionally, then remake it as you see fit. That tends to happen for me in large empires every hundred years or so. It might not be bad for Olfeig, given his age. He could really set things up for a long time to come, remaking Jorvik as he sees fit.

So... oddly I feel the council may have actually helped him long-term?
 
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The young King will remember this day I am sure.

I like the invocation of history - a reminder to Ofeig of his lineage of what he may yet achieve?
This plot has upset the way of doing things in Jorvik. In the past the Jorvikian kings made tributes out of the Irish and Brenton kingdoms creating a confederation of a sort. Once this was in place they went after the tougher prey such as England. Other than Sigeberht this Council does not agree and would rather go after the big fish first.

An interesting turn of events. On one hand, this could prove to be a boon for the stability of the realm. The council seizing the power to declare war means council members can't join factions now! Toss two powerful vassals on the council and the realm's basically revolt free (at least against the king) for the rest of the reign.

On the other, it gives Olfeig the desire for payback against a whole lot of people. Which can be fun, since if timed right, you could fracture the realm piecemeal or just blow it up at the right time intentionally, then remake it as you see fit. That tends to happen for me in large empires every hundred years or so. It might not be bad for Olfeig, given his age. He could really set things up for a long time to come, remaking Jorvik as he sees fit.

So... oddly I feel the council may have actually helped him long-term?
Stability in the realm at this time is hard to predict. There are so many factions. I thought some one would try to assassinate the young king but the game decided to go after his power. We will just have to see what the future brings.

*****

I have been off the forums for quite some time now. I usually check in once a day but have done little else. My father-in-law passed away from COVID-19 on June 17th. It has been a rough time for the family and myself. There was a good number of things to do after his death. The funeral due to the virus was small, My wife, my daughter and son, our neighbors, a long-time friend of ours and me. A Marine was in attendance to present the flag to my wife and a sailor who played taps on the bugle. My father-in-law was a Korean War veteran and survivor of Chosen Reservoir. He suffered with PTSD the rest of his life.

I slipped into a depression afterwards and just moped around for a while. Finally, I started getting back into my other hobby of model railroading. Me and the cat ran trains and I slowly felt better. As I said my forum time has been limited. I am way behind in reading and commenting. I had not opened any files related to Whiteshirts until a few days ago. Tonight is the first time I have felt like commenting or doing anything with the forum. I have not played CKII since mid-June. I am still deciding whether I will work on Whiteshirts and Ofeig’s story or just play some CKII continuing Jorvik’s saga.

At one point I seriously considered not continuing the story and just ending it. I have the tale written in draft form for some period and I feel I should not waste it. I need to get into the mood to begin editing once again. We will see what happens over the next few days.
 
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My condolences for your family. Obviously COVID has hit so many hard and it can be hard to be in the mood for anything after that.

You obviously can take all the time needed for your story. But if you're feeling kind of done with it, that's also fine. Even if you've got a draft, it's OK to essentially say "I just can't deal with actually putting into place".

Honestly, unless you go the coz1 route and do a storybook to the end of 1450, then all of stories will end at a certain ruler. My story will end with Geoffrey, even though that's nowhere close to 1450.

If you do want to end it, then I'd suggest maybe have a final chapter or two to just put a ribbon on it. You could honestly end it with Olfeig coming of age, and laying out the future, giving hints to what happens next with either hopeful or ominous language/visions or something along the like. But it is up to you.

Again, my condolences for you and your family.
 
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Chapter 9.43 - 1040 – January – Perfeddwlad – Rhuddlan

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Chapter 9.43

1040 – January – Perfeddwlad – Rhuddlan


Ælfthryth groaned as she sat down in the armchair. Two of her ladies guided her into the seat. A third lifted her right leg and placed her foot on a padded stool. She nodded her appreciation for their aid. They bowed, and she dismissed them. All but one left the room. She did not linger by her lady but moved off to a place near the door where she could help if needed.

Ælfthryth reached for the blanket on the arm of the chair and threw it over her lap. She extended her hands toward the hearth to gain warmth from the fire.

Ealdmund, Jarl of Powys looked at his wife, wishing there was something he could do for her. He wished he could remove the pain and suffering she experienced. The gout grew worse with each passing day.



“My wife,” Ealdmund said as he reached down to adjust the blanket, “You did not have to come.”

Smiling, Ælfthryth looked up at her husband and expressed, “I grow weary in my chambers. I long to see the outside world. But I shall settle for this room.”

Ealdmund placed his palm on her cheek. She lay her hand over his and withdrew it as he removed his. She glanced at him, “I hear you have a visitor from the north.”

Ealdmund giggled, “Your spies are far better than mine here.”

Ælfthryth laughed. “From where does he come?”

Ealdmund chuckled, “He is not from Jorvik.”

Ælfthryth returned the chuckle, “Then there is no trouble.”

Ealdmund gazed at her, “He is from Westmorland.”

Ælfthryth nodded, “From Wulfwynn. Then concern of a different kind.”

Ealdmund became stern, “I fear you speak the truth.”

Ealdmund looked at the solar doorway, seeing a figure approaching. When the man came close, the jarl reached out, “Bishop Ealdwine.” The two men embraced.



As they broke apart Ealdwine said, “Jarl Ealdmund good to see you.” He looked to Ælfthryth and added, “And marvelous to look at you, Duchess Ælfthryth” He walked over to her and took her hand. He kissed the back of it, “I hope you are feeling better.”

Ælfthryth smiled, “Today is a stronger day.”

Ealdwine grinned, “I shall pray every day is a brighter one.”

Ælfthryth looked up at the Bishop and beamed, “Thank you.”

Ealdmund looked at Ealdwine, “What brings you this far from Appleby?”

Servants brought drink and chunks of cheese with bread, which they placed on a table. After the attendants left Ealdmund invited Ealdwine to take a seat. Both Ealdmund and Ealdwine sat and took their mugs and drank.

Ealdwine glanced at Ælfthryth and back to Ealdmund. Sensing reluctance in Ealdwine, Ealdmund said, “You may speak freely before my wife. If I did not tell her, she would discover what we discussed here.” He looked at his wife and grinned, “her spy network in the keep here is beyond reproach.”

Still unsure, Ealdwine spoke, “By all indications Council has betrayed us.”

Ealdmund nodded, “Does not surprise me. I warned you what would happen.”

Ealdwine sipped his ale. He did not care for Ealdmund’s know it all attitude, even when he was right.

Ealdmund asked, “What is this betrayal?”

Annoyed, Ealdwine replied, “The Council we authorized to declare war instead of the monarch now wishes to use that capacity to start another war. Less than two months ago they agreed to give aid to the French King Nicolas in his Holy War for Murcia.”

Ealdmund sipped his ale and countered, “I do not fault them for such. The kingdom is obliged to the French through our alliance with them. Not agreeing could harm the realm far more than aiding Nicolas.”

Ealdwine protested, “It is still a war.”

Ealdmund nodded, “Yes, but one we can fight with words and promises.”

Confused, Ealdwine looked at Ealdmund. The jarl continued, “Have any calls gone out for troops?”

Ealdwine shook his head, “I have heard of none.”

Ealdmund smiled, “And there will be none.”

Unsure, Ealdwine asked, “What of the French? Will they not question the lack of armies?”

Ealdmund nodded, “They may, but the Council can offer excuses for not doing so, such as threats of unrest or a raiding party to crush.”

Still not convinced, Ealdwine replied, “I understand.”

Ealdmund sipped more ale and said, “Answering the appeal of our ally is not a reason for what did you call it; a betrayal.”

Ealdwine drank his ale and responded, “Now the Council debates declaring another war.”

Ealdmund swallowed his brew and asked, “With whom do they wish to go to war?”

Ealdwine answered, “Aquitaine for Leinster.”

Ealdmund puckered his bottom lip, “That is a dream. I dare not think the kingdom is ready for such a war.”

Ealdwine nodded, “Many agree with you.” He paused and peered at Ealdmund, “They cry out for stopping this madness.”

It intrigued Ealdmund. He knew Ealdwine must have a plan. Why else would he be here?

“What course of action is being contemplated?”

Ealdwine regarded Ealdmund, “Oust the king, replace the Council.”

Ealdmund rubbed his chin and looked at his wife, “A drastic measure indeed.”

Ealdwine affirmed, “But one that is truly needed.”

Ealdmund showed no emotion, “Whom do you have in mind to make king?”

Ealdwine with pride announced, “Count Swæfræd of Gwent.”



Ealdmund nodded his approval, “An excellent choice. Not part of the ruling house, but close enough.”

Glad to see Ealdmund agree, Ealdwine said, “Many believe him to be the most agreeable to all.”

Ealdmund asked, “What do you wish of me?”

Ealdwine smiled, “Your support.”

Ealdmund paused for a moment. At long last, a chance for revenge.

Ealdmund nodded, “You shall have it. But you must move fast. Before another war begins.”

“Who else is with us?” asked Ealdmund.

Ealdwine replied, “From here I go to Leicester.”

Ealdmund suggested, “You should consider Gwynedd. Their distaste for the king and council run deep.”

Ealdwine sipped more ale, “The Royal Family rules Gwynedd. I fear sure such a change would not be acceptable.”

Ealdmund laughed, “The lords of Gwynedd distrust the king and Council. They had requested aide from the king and Council to bring an end to their civil war. They now bear a grudge against the king and Council for Jorvik’s refusal to intervene or halt said civil war.” Ealdmund then smiled, “And the duchess is my granddaughter.”

Ealdwine sat lost in deep thought. No one had considered Gwynedd would oppose the king and Council. Now, after hearing Ealdmund, Ealdwine knew he had another court to visit.

Ealdmund invited Ealdwine to dine with them this evening and everything would ready for him to leave in the morning.

As he realized he had unanticipated travels ahead of him, Ealdwine accepted the offer.
 
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What would Emrys make of that I wonder.

And yet I cannot help but wonder if Ealdmund might yet be playing a different game.
 
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What would Emrys make of that I wonder.

And yet I cannot help but wonder if Ealdmund might yet be playing a different game.
The kingdom, the court, many things have changed. I think Emrys would be broken hearted over the state of affairs and with his son. Ealdmund has fallen far from where he once stood in the kingdom. Revenge may be all he has left.

*****

Next chapter is almost ready. Edits are done. I just need to add screenshots.
 
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