• We will be taking the forums down to perform a site upgrade on 26 January 2020 at approximately 8AM CST (14PM UTC). This downtime is estimated to last between 6 and 8 hours.
  • Crusader Kings III Available Now!

    The realm rejoices as Paradox Interactive announces the launch of Crusader Kings III, the latest entry in the publisher’s grand strategy role-playing game franchise. Advisors may now jockey for positions of influence and adversaries should save their schemes for another day, because on this day Crusader Kings III can be purchased on Steam, the Paradox Store, and other major online retailers.


    Real Strategy Requires Cunning
Chapter 9.41 - 1039 – August – Wiltshire – Clarendon
  • tpmcinty

    Lt. General
    65 Badges
    Mar 9, 2009
    1.245
    946
    • Crusader Kings II
    • Victoria 2: A House Divided
    • Rome Gold
    • Heir to the Throne
    • Divine Wind
    • Europa Universalis III Complete
    • Crusader Kings II: Monks and Mystics
    • Europa Universalis IV: Common Sense
    • Crusader Kings II: Horse Lords
    • Cities: Skylines - Parklife
    • Crusader Kings II: Conclave
    • Stellaris: Apocalypse
    • Hearts of Iron IV: Cadet
    • Crusader Kings II: Reapers Due
    • Europa Universalis IV: Rights of Man
    • Cities: Skylines - Natural Disasters
    • Hearts of Iron IV: Together for Victory
    • Europa Universalis IV: El Dorado
    • Stellaris: Humanoids Species Pack
    • Cities: Skylines - Mass Transit
    • Europa Universalis IV: Mandate of Heaven
    • Europa Universalis IV: Third Rome
    • Hearts of Iron IV: Death or Dishonor
    • Stellaris: Synthetic Dawn
    • Cities: Skylines - Green Cities
    • Cities: Skylines - Parklife Pre-Order
    • Europa Universalis IV: Dharma
    • Crusader Kings II: Holy Fury
    • Stellaris: Megacorp
    • Europa Universalis 4: Emperor
    • Crusader Kings III
    • Cities: Skylines - Campus
    • Imperator: Rome
    • Europa Universalis IV: Golden Century
    • Crusader Kings II: Way of Life
    • Europa Universalis III Complete
    • Europa Universalis III Complete
    • Victoria 2
    • 500k Club
    • Europa Universalis IV: Rule Britannia
    • Europa Universalis IV: Pre-order
    • Cities: Skylines - Snowfall
    • Cities: Skylines - After Dark
    • Europa Universalis IV: Mare Nostrum
    • Europa Universalis IV: Res Publica
    • Crusader Kings II: Charlemagne
    • Crusader Kings II: Legacy of Rome
    • Crusader Kings II: The Old Gods
    • Crusader Kings II: Rajas of India
    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.
     
    • 1Like
    • 1Love
    Reactions:
    Chapter 9.42 - 1039 – November – Jorvik
  • tpmcinty

    Lt. General
    65 Badges
    Mar 9, 2009
    1.245
    946
    • Crusader Kings II
    • Victoria 2: A House Divided
    • Rome Gold
    • Heir to the Throne
    • Divine Wind
    • Europa Universalis III Complete
    • Crusader Kings II: Monks and Mystics
    • Europa Universalis IV: Common Sense
    • Crusader Kings II: Horse Lords
    • Cities: Skylines - Parklife
    • Crusader Kings II: Conclave
    • Stellaris: Apocalypse
    • Hearts of Iron IV: Cadet
    • Crusader Kings II: Reapers Due
    • Europa Universalis IV: Rights of Man
    • Cities: Skylines - Natural Disasters
    • Hearts of Iron IV: Together for Victory
    • Europa Universalis IV: El Dorado
    • Stellaris: Humanoids Species Pack
    • Cities: Skylines - Mass Transit
    • Europa Universalis IV: Mandate of Heaven
    • Europa Universalis IV: Third Rome
    • Hearts of Iron IV: Death or Dishonor
    • Stellaris: Synthetic Dawn
    • Cities: Skylines - Green Cities
    • Cities: Skylines - Parklife Pre-Order
    • Europa Universalis IV: Dharma
    • Crusader Kings II: Holy Fury
    • Stellaris: Megacorp
    • Europa Universalis 4: Emperor
    • Crusader Kings III
    • Cities: Skylines - Campus
    • Imperator: Rome
    • Europa Universalis IV: Golden Century
    • Crusader Kings II: Way of Life
    • Europa Universalis III Complete
    • Europa Universalis III Complete
    • Victoria 2
    • 500k Club
    • Europa Universalis IV: Rule Britannia
    • Europa Universalis IV: Pre-order
    • Cities: Skylines - Snowfall
    • Cities: Skylines - After Dark
    • Europa Universalis IV: Mare Nostrum
    • Europa Universalis IV: Res Publica
    • Crusader Kings II: Charlemagne
    • Crusader Kings II: Legacy of Rome
    • Crusader Kings II: The Old Gods
    • Crusader Kings II: Rajas of India
    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.
     
    • 1Like
    • 1Love
    Reactions:
    Chapter 9.43 - 1040 – January – Perfeddwlad – Rhuddlan
  • tpmcinty

    Lt. General
    65 Badges
    Mar 9, 2009
    1.245
    946
    • Crusader Kings II
    • Victoria 2: A House Divided
    • Rome Gold
    • Heir to the Throne
    • Divine Wind
    • Europa Universalis III Complete
    • Crusader Kings II: Monks and Mystics
    • Europa Universalis IV: Common Sense
    • Crusader Kings II: Horse Lords
    • Cities: Skylines - Parklife
    • Crusader Kings II: Conclave
    • Stellaris: Apocalypse
    • Hearts of Iron IV: Cadet
    • Crusader Kings II: Reapers Due
    • Europa Universalis IV: Rights of Man
    • Cities: Skylines - Natural Disasters
    • Hearts of Iron IV: Together for Victory
    • Europa Universalis IV: El Dorado
    • Stellaris: Humanoids Species Pack
    • Cities: Skylines - Mass Transit
    • Europa Universalis IV: Mandate of Heaven
    • Europa Universalis IV: Third Rome
    • Hearts of Iron IV: Death or Dishonor
    • Stellaris: Synthetic Dawn
    • Cities: Skylines - Green Cities
    • Cities: Skylines - Parklife Pre-Order
    • Europa Universalis IV: Dharma
    • Crusader Kings II: Holy Fury
    • Stellaris: Megacorp
    • Europa Universalis 4: Emperor
    • Crusader Kings III
    • Cities: Skylines - Campus
    • Imperator: Rome
    • Europa Universalis IV: Golden Century
    • Crusader Kings II: Way of Life
    • Europa Universalis III Complete
    • Europa Universalis III Complete
    • Victoria 2
    • 500k Club
    • Europa Universalis IV: Rule Britannia
    • Europa Universalis IV: Pre-order
    • Cities: Skylines - Snowfall
    • Cities: Skylines - After Dark
    • Europa Universalis IV: Mare Nostrum
    • Europa Universalis IV: Res Publica
    • Crusader Kings II: Charlemagne
    • Crusader Kings II: Legacy of Rome
    • Crusader Kings II: The Old Gods
    • Crusader Kings II: Rajas of India
    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.
     
    • 1Love
    Reactions:
    Chapter 9.44 1040 – Gwynedd – Bishopric of Bangor Fawr
  • tpmcinty

    Lt. General
    65 Badges
    Mar 9, 2009
    1.245
    946
    • Crusader Kings II
    • Victoria 2: A House Divided
    • Rome Gold
    • Heir to the Throne
    • Divine Wind
    • Europa Universalis III Complete
    • Crusader Kings II: Monks and Mystics
    • Europa Universalis IV: Common Sense
    • Crusader Kings II: Horse Lords
    • Cities: Skylines - Parklife
    • Crusader Kings II: Conclave
    • Stellaris: Apocalypse
    • Hearts of Iron IV: Cadet
    • Crusader Kings II: Reapers Due
    • Europa Universalis IV: Rights of Man
    • Cities: Skylines - Natural Disasters
    • Hearts of Iron IV: Together for Victory
    • Europa Universalis IV: El Dorado
    • Stellaris: Humanoids Species Pack
    • Cities: Skylines - Mass Transit
    • Europa Universalis IV: Mandate of Heaven
    • Europa Universalis IV: Third Rome
    • Hearts of Iron IV: Death or Dishonor
    • Stellaris: Synthetic Dawn
    • Cities: Skylines - Green Cities
    • Cities: Skylines - Parklife Pre-Order
    • Europa Universalis IV: Dharma
    • Crusader Kings II: Holy Fury
    • Stellaris: Megacorp
    • Europa Universalis 4: Emperor
    • Crusader Kings III
    • Cities: Skylines - Campus
    • Imperator: Rome
    • Europa Universalis IV: Golden Century
    • Crusader Kings II: Way of Life
    • Europa Universalis III Complete
    • Europa Universalis III Complete
    • Victoria 2
    • 500k Club
    • Europa Universalis IV: Rule Britannia
    • Europa Universalis IV: Pre-order
    • Cities: Skylines - Snowfall
    • Cities: Skylines - After Dark
    • Europa Universalis IV: Mare Nostrum
    • Europa Universalis IV: Res Publica
    • Crusader Kings II: Charlemagne
    • Crusader Kings II: Legacy of Rome
    • Crusader Kings II: The Old Gods
    • Crusader Kings II: Rajas of India
    Chapter 9.44

    1040 – Gwynedd – Bishopric of Bangor Fawr

    June


    The recently ascended Duchess of Gwynedd blessed herself as she finished her prayer. She rose from kneeling before the undersized and rather plain sarcophagus. Once erect she reached down and straightened her skirt. She then placed a loving palm on the smooth stone top. She removed her hand, turned, and exited the mausoleum.

    In the sunlight, a middle-aged man greeted Ælfthryth. Eyes filled with concern, he watched her and bowed.



    Still trying to control her tears and emotions, the duchess glanced at him. “Swithelm Eadricsson, what brings you to this gloomy place?”

    He smiled to appear cheerful, “You do, Duchess.”

    She raised an eyebrow, “I do?”

    With the same smile he replied, “Am I not your Court Chaplin? Is not my duty to comfort you when your spirit and heart are troubled as they are now?”



    Angry with her advisor, Ælfthryth sensed he was demeaning her. But, one look at the counselor Ælfthryth could see his concern was genuine. Her mood softened.

    “It is difficult to come to terms when someone so young is taken from us.” A tear rolled down her cheek. “He had only seen eleven summers. A life too short.”

    Swithelm reached out and cupped her hands within his, “Our Lord’s plan is impossible to understand in particular when he calls a child to his kingdom.”

    Her voice cracking, Ælfthryth replied, “Thurcytel had not begun to live. Jarl at three and half weeks after being birthed deprived him of his childhood. Then the same flu that took our father stole the life out of my brother.”



    To comfort her, Swithelm said, “He is at peace now.”

    With force she removed her hands from his hands shocking Swithelm. Ælfthryth glared at her court chaplain, “Peace. What do you know of peace? What do any of us know of peace? All he knew for his eleven years was civil war.”

    Swithelm recovered from his shock, “I speak of eternal tranquility. The love and warmth he will find in the arms of Our Lord.”

    She realized the possibility she insulted Swithelm and regretted such Ælfthryth forced down her anger. “I apologize, I appreciate you only offer comfort to me.”

    Swithelm smiled, “No offense taken, milady. These are trying days.”

    Ælfthryth chuckled, “Dark times, indeed, with civil war for the last eleven years. All the fault of that bitch Countess Mildrith of Gloucester. May her soul rot in Hell for all eternity.”

    Swithelm remained silent. There was nothing he could say as his duchess spoke the truth as far in his eyes.

    She continued, “What underhanded deal did my uncle Hlothere make with her? The lands and titles grandfather left to him do not satisfy his thirst for power.”

    Swithelm tried to protest, “Milady, the Count of Shrewsbury has never acknowledged Mildrith acted in his name.”

    Annoyed, Ælfthryth replied, “In public he may not acknowledge it, but I tell you in private he plots with his treacherous wife, the Countess Katarina of Hereford, to steal the Jarldom of Gwynedd from its rightful rulers.”

    Still trying to allay Ælfthryth’s fears, Swithelm responded, “He has often spoken against the war.”

    Ælfthryth shook her head, “Yet he has taken no action to end the conflict.”

    Swithelm knew further arguments were futile and did not respond. Instead, he averted his eyes from the duchess’ gaze.

    Ælfthryth finished her rant, “If Hlothere becomes Jarl of Gwynedd upon his demise, his, and Herford’s son, Snorri will become Jarl of Gwynedd and Count of Hereford.”

    At the gate of the graveyard she gestured and looked back at the plain, unornate mausoleum and shook her head, “We cannot even bury him properly since the Rebels hold our home, Abberfraw.” She swung about and pointed at the bishop’s manor and said, “We now call this home.” She sighed, “Our pitiful levies of two hundred and fifty men can do nothing to change our lot. Our gold is all but gone. We need a miracle to survive.”

    At the manor gate, another counselor met them. Ælfthryth stopped and glared at him.

    “Why is my Chancellor waiting for me? Am I not permitted to mourn my brother without intrusion?”

    The official looked wounded and embarrassed, “I beg your forgiveness, milady.”

    Ælfthryth shook her head in disgust, “Well, out with it, Tewdwr. What is so damned important it could not wait?”

    Tewdwr swallowed hard. He had underestimated the duchess’ reaction to him bringing her news. Close to losing his nerve, he replied, “Your grandfather sends his condolences and apologizes for not being able to attend the funeral. Matters of state and the health of your grandmother prevented him from leaving Prefeddwlad.”



    Ælfthryth closed her eyes, struggling to hold her anger. “By any chance did the illustrious Jarl Ealdmund of Powys offer any gold or troops to aid his favorite granddaughter?”

    Tewdwr looked down, “No, milady.”

    Ælfthryth pushed past Tewdwr saying, “Perhaps good sir you should go return to being just the Mayor of Caernarfon.”

    Tewdwr tried to save face, “Milady, I understand not.”

    Ælfthryth stopped in her tracks and spun around to confront Tewdwr, “Do not waste my time.”

    Tewdwr stepped back in fear, “I – I—”

    Ælfthryth glared at him, “You did not come here to tell me of an insignificant message from my grandfather.”

    Tewdwr meekly shook his head.

    She was finding it hard to control her annoyance at Tewdwr. Deep down Ælfthryth believed Council was the principal reason for the civil war going against her late brother and now herself. She took steps to correct the problem and removed the former regent Beorhthelm Cuthrædsson from his council position of Spymaster and replaced him with Wulfgar Leofhelmsson who she planned to meet later this day. She hoped her new spymaster would give her the justification to remove the fool who stood before her from the Council.

    “Well?”

    Sweat appeared on the Chancellor’s forehead, “A message arrived from Jorvik, milady.”

    Ælfthryth’s mood darkened. The last she wished to hear from was the Regency Council. “The news?”

    In fear of a backlash with caution, Tewdwr replied, “Arngrimr speaking for King Ofeig requires your appearance before the king and council to swear your oaths and pledge your fidelity.”

    Ælfthryth closed her eyes and was silent for several moments, so long Tewdwr thought she had not heard him. He was about to repeat the message when her eyes opened slowly. Her face became red, and she clenched her fists, digging her nails into her palms. She exhaled deliberately.

    “They dare order me to Jorvik now. My brother’s body is not cold in his tomb.” She glared at Tewdwr, directing her anger at him since she could not direct it at the Council. “We fight a fruitless war and they offer no help, nor do they take steps to end it despite our pleas. Our jarldom is awash in blood and fire and those fools sit on high feasting and celebrating their victories.”

    Shocked and confused by her outburst, Tewdwr stood wide eyed looking at the duchess. She scoffed, turned and left Tewdwr and Swithelm standing in the courtyard.

    Tewdwr turned to Swithelm, “If she refuses, there will be trouble.”

    Swithelm nodded, “She needs time.”

    Desperate Tewdwr replied, “We have no time. The Council, the Regent will not wait. They will label her a traitor.”

    Swithelm smirked, “They may call her names, but they will not take action.”

    Tewdwr sighed, “But what of the Church?”

    Swithelm looked at Tewdwr, “What of the Church?”

    Frustrated and scared, Tewdwr answered, “Not swearing her oaths will gain disfavor with the Church. There could be repercussions.”

    Swithelm chuckled, “Excommunication?”

    Tewdwr nodded.

    Swithelm shook his head, “For whom are you afraid? The duchess, the jarldom, yourself?”

    “Excommunication would harm us all,” replied Tewdwr.

    Swithelm put his hand upon Tewdwr’s shoulder. “I do not believe the Church will follow such a course.” He smiled and walked away. Tewdwr stood watching him leave.

    *****

    After the evening meal, Ælfthryth sat with Wulfgar in her chambers. She offered the spymaster wine, which he accepted. They sat across from one another.



    Ælfthryth looked at Wulfgar, “Have you found cause so I may rid myself of that fool Tewdwr?”

    Wulfgar shook his head, “No, I have not been so fortunate.”

    Ælfthryth drank her wine, “I wish you would make haste.”

    Wulfgar nodded, “I heard about today and I will do my part.” He smiled menacingly, “Not everything must be true. It only needs to be believed.”

    Ælfthryth raised an eyebrow and grinned. She acknowledged her approval.

    Wulfgar sipped his wine and said, “I recognize the distaste, but you must swear your oaths to the king.”

    Sipping more wine, Ælfthryth replied, “I know.”

    Wulfgar smirked, “Do such to buy time.”

    Ælfthryth looked at Wulfgar, “Events move as we hoped.”

    Wulfgar nodded, “Yes, milady. They may even be further along than we expected.”

    Ælfthryth smiled, “That is good.”

    Wulfgar returned the smile, “The moment for a meeting is upon us.”

    Ælfthryth nodded, “I take you are correct. When?”

    With a devilish grin Wulfgar replied, “On your way home from Jorvik.”

    Surprised, Ælfthryth asked, “Jorvik?”

    Wulfgar chuckled, “Yes, after you swear your oaths. You could undertake a return trip through Appleby.”

    Understanding, Ælfthryth smiled, “I expect you are right.”

    Wulfgar snickered, “I shall see to the arrangements.”

    September – Westmoreland - Appleby

    Ælfthryth with her Steward Bishop Oswine of Bangor Fawr partook in the wine, breads, and cheeses as they waited in the solar. After a few minutes Bishop Ealdwine of Cartmel entered the room. The bishop greeted them and joined them in the drinking and eating.



    Between sips and bites Ealdwine said, “Unusual for a liege lord to travel with their steward and not their chancellor.”

    Ælfthryth looked at Oswine and grinned. Ealdwine had come first to test them. Ælfthryth took a measured sip and smiled at Ealdwine.

    “A liege lord travels with those she trusts. Many times, in delicate situations she needs someone who will not act emotionally and knows discretion.”

    Ealdwine grinned, “Yes, a trusted traveling companion who thinks as his liege does is valuable.” He chewed a piece of cheese and asked, “How did you find Jorvik?”

    Ælfthryth smirked, “Not to my liking. I felt I was in a pit of vipers.”

    Ealdwine chuckled, “A very appropriate appraisal of current life in the capital.”

    Oswine then spoke, “I took notice that neither yourself nor your countess were present.”

    Ealdwine nodded, “Yes, we do not have the constitution to withstand the king’s court these days. As Ofeig comes nearer to the age where the regency council will disband and those on council jostle for favor and influence while maintaining their own interest. It is as your duchess described a pit of vipers.”

    Ælfthryth scoffed, “They play their games and plot their plots while we suffer.”

    Ealdwine nodded to her, “Some more than others. Pity council achieved nothing in the king's name to end the languishing civil war that has afflicted your jarldom for over a decade.”

    Ealdwine could see the resentment in Ælfthryth’s eyes as she responded, “I as many others from Gwynedd have pleaded for an end. I was told everything was being done that could be done and sent on my way like a child whose parents were lying to them about finding a lost toy.”

    The voracity of the rage in the sixteen-year-old duchess surprised Ealdwine.

    “It is improper, the contempt the king’s vassals are subject to from those in power.”

    Ælfthryth nodded, “Disrespect from the crown to my family goes back to King Eadweard and his treatment of my grandfather and his uncle, Jarl Hlothere Eilifsson.”

    Countess Wulfwynn chose this moment to arrive.

    “Many in this room have been disrespected by the crown.”

    She stopped before Oswine and smiled, “Is that not true Oswine Leofwealdsson?”

    Oswine looked at Wulfwynn and replied, “Yes, milady. Some more than others.”

    Wulfwynn took the goblet offered by Ealdwine and drank the wine. Keeping her gaze on Oswine she said, “If it had not been for King Rædwald you would today be Jarl of Northumberland.”



    Oswine nodded but remained silent as Wulfwynn continued, “Deposing your father, Leofweald, was no way to treat the son of the legendary Jarl Ælfweald of Northumberland.”

    Oswine cringed and responded, “There is no fault in your words.”

    Wulfwynn sipped her wine and smiled as she turned to face Ælfthryth, “I see no love is lost for Arngrimr, the Council or King Ofeig by those in this room.”

    Ælfthryth nodded, “Again you speak true. Words are meaningless without action to make them strong.”

    Wulfwynn said, “You were correct, Ealdwine, the Duchess of Gwynedd is young and lacks the patience that comes with age.”

    Ælfthryth glared at Ealdwine, “I did not come here to be insulted.”

    Wulfwynn held her hand as a gesture of calm, “We mean no insult. The future has taken many years to plant and nurture and will need a little more time to bear fruit.”

    Still annoyed and feeling she was being toyed with, Ælfthryth replied, “Unlike others, time is a luxury I may not have.”

    Wulfwynn nodded, “I understand and with your levies we are very close to achieving our goal.”

    Ælfthryth’s mood softened, “I apologize. I am impatient, but I have my reasons. To wait too long will only bring further ruin to Gwynedd. We are close to spent.”

    Wulfwynn smiled motherly at Ælfthryth, “I am aware of your predicament. Your grandfather, Ealdmund, went to great lengths explaining it to us. His confidence in you has gained you this meeting and opportunity.”

    Unsure, Ælfthryth asked, “What opportunity?”

    Wulfwynn beamed, “Why to depose the House of Hvitserk.”

    Ælfthryth took a breath as for the first time since her brother’s death she felt they had found a solution to end her misery and the suffering of her people.

    She grinned back at Wulfwynn, “Long live King Swæfræd.”
     
    • 1Love
    Reactions:
    Chapter 9.45 1040 – September – Somerset – Bath
  • tpmcinty

    Lt. General
    65 Badges
    Mar 9, 2009
    1.245
    946
    • Crusader Kings II
    • Victoria 2: A House Divided
    • Rome Gold
    • Heir to the Throne
    • Divine Wind
    • Europa Universalis III Complete
    • Crusader Kings II: Monks and Mystics
    • Europa Universalis IV: Common Sense
    • Crusader Kings II: Horse Lords
    • Cities: Skylines - Parklife
    • Crusader Kings II: Conclave
    • Stellaris: Apocalypse
    • Hearts of Iron IV: Cadet
    • Crusader Kings II: Reapers Due
    • Europa Universalis IV: Rights of Man
    • Cities: Skylines - Natural Disasters
    • Hearts of Iron IV: Together for Victory
    • Europa Universalis IV: El Dorado
    • Stellaris: Humanoids Species Pack
    • Cities: Skylines - Mass Transit
    • Europa Universalis IV: Mandate of Heaven
    • Europa Universalis IV: Third Rome
    • Hearts of Iron IV: Death or Dishonor
    • Stellaris: Synthetic Dawn
    • Cities: Skylines - Green Cities
    • Cities: Skylines - Parklife Pre-Order
    • Europa Universalis IV: Dharma
    • Crusader Kings II: Holy Fury
    • Stellaris: Megacorp
    • Europa Universalis 4: Emperor
    • Crusader Kings III
    • Cities: Skylines - Campus
    • Imperator: Rome
    • Europa Universalis IV: Golden Century
    • Crusader Kings II: Way of Life
    • Europa Universalis III Complete
    • Europa Universalis III Complete
    • Victoria 2
    • 500k Club
    • Europa Universalis IV: Rule Britannia
    • Europa Universalis IV: Pre-order
    • Cities: Skylines - Snowfall
    • Cities: Skylines - After Dark
    • Europa Universalis IV: Mare Nostrum
    • Europa Universalis IV: Res Publica
    • Crusader Kings II: Charlemagne
    • Crusader Kings II: Legacy of Rome
    • Crusader Kings II: The Old Gods
    • Crusader Kings II: Rajas of India
    Chapter 9.45

    1040 – September – Somerset – Bath


    The breeze carried the sweet smell of freshly fallen rain. A welcome relief to those standing in the hastily erected a pavilion in what was now a muddy field. For a moment, the stench of war and death was subdued other reminders remained. The trebuchets and other siege engines sat motionless for the first time in months.

    Duke Osweald of Kent, Leader of the Revolt to place Ealdmund Osheresson on the throne of England, stood looking at the ruined walls of Bath with his hands cupped behind his back. His gazed turned to the shadows laying upon the ground. He huffed and began pacing back and forth across the pavilion. Lord Mayor Ruaidrí of Wessex, the Chancellor of the Revolt, rolled his eyes as the duke resumed his pacing. Osweald’s pacing for the past hour wore on the chancellor’s last nerve.



    To Ruaidrí’s relief, a horseman approached. The rider halted, dismounted, and handed the reins to a groomsman who lead the horse away. He entered the pavilion. Ruaidrí smiling exclaimed, “Bishop Æthelweald, you are a welcome sight.”

    The Bishop of Rochester grinned, knowing Osweald’s pacing wore on the Lord Mayor’s nerves.



    Osweald stopped and looked at Æthelweald, “Any news Marshal?”

    Æthelweald affirmed, “They approach.”

    Ruaidrí asked, “Is he with them?”

    Again, Æthelweald nodded, “Yes. The guards escorting the party appear to be for him and not the others.”

    Osweald smiled, “They have made a wise choice.”

    A moment later, a group of riders approached. The three rebel lords strained their eyes, watching the group as it arrived.

    Ruaidrí spoke, “I see the banner of England. At the rear I see the pennant of the House of Northumbria.”

    Æthelweald stated, “The emblem of House of Ludolfinger is absent.”

    Osweald grinned, “As it should be.”

    The riders neared the pavilion and halted. Several members of the party dismounted and strolled toward the gathered rebellious lords.

    The first man to enter nodded to the rebel lords as he walked past them saying, “Osweald, Ruaidrí, Æthelweald.”

    All three returned the nod. Only Osweald replied, “Bishop Beorhthelm of Muchelney.”



    The next rider to come in glared at the rebels but did not say a word. Ruaidrí called out his name, “Baron Eadberht of Taunton.” The baron appeared to glare more intensely at Ruaidrí but remained silent.



    Last, the Regent of King Humbert entered the pavilion. Osweald looked at the regent and said, “Bishop Ealdmund, I do not see Humbert.”

    Glaring at Osweald, the Bishop of St Pauls responded, “He is not here. As his regent, I speak for him.”



    Osweald nodded, “I pray he is safe and well.”

    Annoyed, Ealdmund replied, “He is with my guards, safe from any that would wish him harm.”

    Æthelweald felt insulted, responded, “None here wishes him harm.”

    Eadberht growled, “Is that so? Then why rebel against your lawful sovereign?”

    Osweald glared at Eadberht, “He is not of England, not of Northumbria.”

    Eadberht spat, “He is the grandson of King Ælfgar the Wise.”

    Osweald shook his head, “I have not the time or patience to argue this any further.” He turned to Ealdmund, “Will the regent lead these talks or will the fool,” indicating Eadberht, “of a Chancellor do so?”

    Ealdmund looked at Osweald and said, “It was my belief we are here under a flag of truce.”

    Ruaidrí spoke sternly, “You are, and no harm will come to your party as long as none violate the terms of said truce.”

    Æthelweald spoke up, “Time to end this tomfoolery.”

    Beorhthelm joined, “The business of war is nothing to make light of.”

    Æthelweald nodded, “It is not, and I do not.” He looked at Beorhthelm, “Tell me Marshal is continuing a fight when there is no hope of victory, not fool’s play?”

    Uncomfortable, the Marshal of England replied, “It is. But even if one man stands there is hope.”

    As marshal Ruaidrí responded, “Only a fool speaks so. Where is your army, Beorhthelm?”

    Beorththelm scowled at Ruaidrí but he did not speak. Ruaidrí continued, “The truth is you have none. Many were lost to Ofeig and Maud. The rest are in graves scattered throughout England. You have only small remnants of each of your own personal troops.”

    “Enough with this blustering. We have important work before us,” stated Osweald.

    The Duke of Kent looked at each of Humbert’s men and continued, “Your army is spent. Support wanes for your cause. We know the Regent for Earl Swegn of Dorset refuses to raise any further levies. All of Middlesex is under our control. Why tarry? None will accuse you of not doing your duty for Humbert.”

    Each of the English lords looked beaten. Their heads hung low. Ealdmund after a few moments glanced at Osweald and asked, “Terms?”

    Showing no emotion, Osweald replied, “As always. Humbert steps down as king and we recognize Ealdmund Osheresson as king.”

    Ealdmund drew a lengthy breath and acknowledged, “Done.” With that one word, the English Civil War to Make Ealdmund King was finished.

    Osweald nodded. A guard walked to a group of men who accompanied Humbert’s men but had stayed at a distance. The guard spoke to them. Several separated from the group and followed the guard to the pavilion. Only one man entered. When he did so Osweald fell to one knee and exclaimed, “Long live King Ealdmund!”



    All others in the pavilion followed suit.

    Ealdmund indicated they should rise. He peered around the pavilion at everyone in attendance. “Baron Eadberht and Bishop Beorhthelm, your services are no longer required.”

    Eadberht and Beorhthelm looked at each other and then bowed to Ealdmund saying, “Yes, milord.” They quickly left the pavilion.

    Ealdmund walked before Osweald and said, “In appreciation for your works, I hereby appoint you Marshal of England.”

    Osweald bowed, “Thank you, Sire.”

    Ealdmund then moved to stand before Ruaidrí and Æthelweald and said, “As you are vassals of Duke Osweald, I am limited in the rewards I can offer. Your contributions will not be forgotten, and Kent will provide for you as I direct.”

    Both bowed. Æthelweald spoke, “Having you as king and the House of Northumbria restored is reward within itself.”

    Ealdmund patted Æthelweald on the shoulder.

    Ealdmund then directed his attention to Bishop Ealdmund, “Bishop your time as regent is no longer needed.”

    The bishop nodded, “Yes, Sire.”

    The king smiled, “However, your service to the kingdom is not at an end.”

    Surprised, Bishop Ealdmund looked at the king. King Ealdmund continued, “I appoint you Stewart of the Kingdom.”

    Bishop Ealdmund bowed, “I shall endeavor to serve to the best of my ability.”

    Still smiling, the king responded, “I know you will.”

    Bishop Ealdmund asked, “Sire, if I may?”

    King Ealdmund nodded and commanded, “Speak.”

    The bishop hesitated, “What of Humbert?”

    The king looked at the assembled lords and ordered, “No harm is to come to him. His titles and lands as Earl and Duke of Somerset are his to keep. Is that understood?”

    All acknowledged, “Yes, sire.”



    Ealdmund appeared to have lost something and asked, “Where is the Duke of Lothian and the Earl of Essex?”

    Osweald motioned to several guards as he replied, “They will be summoned, Sire.”

    King Ealdmund chuckled, “If they knew why they were being called, they may not respond.”

    Æthelweald asked, “Why is that Sire?”

    The king smiled, “I plan to make Duke Leofhelm chancellor and Earl Sigeric spymaster. Once done, we can discuss our first order of business.”

    Curious, Osweald inquired, “What is that?”

    Ealdmund smirked, “Convincing the new Countess of Wiltshire, it is in her best interest to be part of England than our Nordic neighbor to the north.”
     
    • 1Love
    Reactions:
    Chapter 9.46 1040 - November – Cardiff - Glamorgan
  • tpmcinty

    Lt. General
    65 Badges
    Mar 9, 2009
    1.245
    946
    • Crusader Kings II
    • Victoria 2: A House Divided
    • Rome Gold
    • Heir to the Throne
    • Divine Wind
    • Europa Universalis III Complete
    • Crusader Kings II: Monks and Mystics
    • Europa Universalis IV: Common Sense
    • Crusader Kings II: Horse Lords
    • Cities: Skylines - Parklife
    • Crusader Kings II: Conclave
    • Stellaris: Apocalypse
    • Hearts of Iron IV: Cadet
    • Crusader Kings II: Reapers Due
    • Europa Universalis IV: Rights of Man
    • Cities: Skylines - Natural Disasters
    • Hearts of Iron IV: Together for Victory
    • Europa Universalis IV: El Dorado
    • Stellaris: Humanoids Species Pack
    • Cities: Skylines - Mass Transit
    • Europa Universalis IV: Mandate of Heaven
    • Europa Universalis IV: Third Rome
    • Hearts of Iron IV: Death or Dishonor
    • Stellaris: Synthetic Dawn
    • Cities: Skylines - Green Cities
    • Cities: Skylines - Parklife Pre-Order
    • Europa Universalis IV: Dharma
    • Crusader Kings II: Holy Fury
    • Stellaris: Megacorp
    • Europa Universalis 4: Emperor
    • Crusader Kings III
    • Cities: Skylines - Campus
    • Imperator: Rome
    • Europa Universalis IV: Golden Century
    • Crusader Kings II: Way of Life
    • Europa Universalis III Complete
    • Europa Universalis III Complete
    • Victoria 2
    • 500k Club
    • Europa Universalis IV: Rule Britannia
    • Europa Universalis IV: Pre-order
    • Cities: Skylines - Snowfall
    • Cities: Skylines - After Dark
    • Europa Universalis IV: Mare Nostrum
    • Europa Universalis IV: Res Publica
    • Crusader Kings II: Charlemagne
    • Crusader Kings II: Legacy of Rome
    • Crusader Kings II: The Old Gods
    • Crusader Kings II: Rajas of India
    Chapter 9.46

    1040 - November – Cardiff - Glamorgan


    Anarawd slowly approached his father who stood in the courtyard lost in thought staring at a waterless fountain. His feet rustling through the dried leaves alerted Padern Anarawd was close. The son took a position to his father’s left. Neither spoke for a time.

    “Father?” Anarawd asked uncomfortably.

    Without moving his gaze from the fountain, Padern said, “Your grandfather, Jarl Emrys, the Great Marshal, built this fountain to mimic the one in the courtyard at the king’s keep.”

    Anarawd responded in an awkward voice, “Yes, you have spoken of it many times.”

    They fell into silence again.

    “The priests say she dwells in a better place. At peace with no pain,” stated Padern.

    Anarawd nodded, “Mother suffered long with the cancer. We all understood this day would come.”

    Padern gazed at the ground, “At length we spoke of her death. She welcomed it as an end to her suffering. I thought I also accepted it.” He looked at his youngest son, “Now she is gone and the one thing I want is my Wulfhild here with me where I can gaze about her sweet face once more. Hear her beautiful voice again.”

    Anarawd swallowed hard, his eyes watering, “I too miss her.”

    His eyes and his fist clinched, Padern said, “Wulfhild is barely at rest in her tomb and the cruel hand of fate preys upon me like a ravenous beast feeding on my sorrow.”

    Anarawd stood silent. He too experienced the pain of which his father spoke.

    Padern raised his fist, opening it and placing it before Anarawd’s face. He growled as he shook his hand, “Five, five damned days.”

    At first Anarawd feared his father might strike him, such was their relationship. As the third son Padern had little occasion for Anarawd and when he did, he was cold and unapproachable. Often, he was cruel.

    Anarawd understood his mother’s death was not the only reason his father reacted as he did. He worked up the courage and replied, “Emrys had been ill for months. He hid it from mother and you so as not to trouble you more.”

    Padern slammed his fist into his palm. “Trouble me less? How? I now have buried my firstborn alongside his mother.”

    Anarawd tried to calm his father, “No one grasped how sick he was. None reckoned he would go to sleep and not wake in the morning.”

    Padern grabbed Anarawd by the shoulders and with a tear rolling down his cheek asked, “Why? I want to know why? Was it not enough my second-born son was taken when he was only thirteen? Arthfoddw did not deserve the death brought to him by the Camp Fever. For twenty-six years I questioned why?”

    Voice filled with cynicism, Anarawd responded, “You realize why the Camp Fever swept through Wales.”

    Confused, Padern replied, “I know not what of you speak.”

    Anarawd chuckled and walked to the low wall around the fountain and sat upon it, “You do but you deny it even though it is the truth.”

    His annoyance growing, Padern glared at his surviving son, “Utter not in riddles.”

    Anarawd looked at Padern, “Where indeed did the camp fever come from?”

    Still glaring, Padern replied, “Scotland, down the west coast through Lancaster and Chester and into Wales and Mercia.”

    Anarawd asked, “And who brought it?”

    Padern burst, “I tire of your games.”

    With a slight grin, Anarawd answered, “Soldiers returning from the Irish battlefields. Fighting the war for the glory of our illustrious king. A war that produced riches and lands for them and gave us only death in return.”

    Surprised, Padern responded, “for that reason I have championed against the power of the crown and taken action to restrict it.”

    Anarawd stood and faced his father, “Is that so? What of the war for Wiltshire? Did you not advocate for that adventure?”

    Padern stepped back from his son and turned from him, “There were circumstances you would not understand that made the war necessary.”

    Anarawd threw his arms up, “Circumstances? The war accomplished nothing. Countess Maud now calls King Ealdmund of England her liege. Öysteinn was killed for no cause.” He paused as a thought struck him. He felt he discovered a secret, “Or was there some nefarious reason?”

    Shocked, Padern replied, “I know not what you…” Padern trailed off as his mind wandered into a dark place. He looked Anarawd in the eyes, “You think I wanted the war to kill Öysteinn.”

    Anarawd stared back at his father, “Why not? His death ensured Ofeig would not appoint him as Marshal one day, thus replacing you.”

    Padern’s face reddened in anger, “You know nothing.”

    Anarawd stood fast, “Is that so? All knew Ofeig was about to offer Öysteinn a title and land.”

    Padern laughed, “We undertook the war for Wiltshire to embarrass Rígán and give grounds for his removal.”

    Anarawd did not fully believe it until now, “To put Arngrimr in his place. How is that grand planning working since Arngrimr sides more with Sigeberht and the king?”

    Padern glared at Anarawd and remained quiet. Anarawd continued his gloating, “Let us not speak of Bishop Wistan and his blasphemy. I am sure you did not foresee such a turn of events.”

    An evil grin came to Anarawd, “Father, you are losing control.”

    Padern snapped back, “I have lost nothing.”

    Anarawd giggled, “You will soon.”

    Padern scowled at his son as he continued, “It is only a matter of time before Ofeig replaces you as Marshal.”

    Padern eyes narrowed, “He dare not.”

    Anarawd fought to hold his laughter, “Why wouldn’t he? You have tried to manipulate him at every opportunity. He has expressed openly all titles and positions in the kingdom should be held by those of Nordic decent.”

    Padern shook his head no, “The Marshal has been Welsh for three generations. The last time a Norseman occupied the position, disaster followed.”

    Anarawd laughed, “You assume the foolish actions of the long dead Jarl Anualf of Powys and the Countess Maria’s Rebellion will save you?”

    Anger rose in Padern, but he did not speak.

    Anarawd became smug, “You are a fool in many ways, dear Father.” Anarawd stared into his parent’s eyes, “Did you think you would get away with it?”

    Perplexed Padern replied, “Get away with what?”

    Anarawd scoffed, “Sigeberht and Arngrimr talk of a war for the glory of the king. And you follow.”

    Padern narrowed his eyes, “What do you speak of?”

    Anarawd chuckled, “Come father, we all know the Council and you look for a victim to subjugate. Who will it be? King Natfraich of Connachta, Queen Gwen of Cornwall, or King Ealdmund of England? Or would you dare go after King Thierry III of Aquitaine to take Leinster?”

    Padern glared at his son, “The kingdom must prove its strength. Our enemies swarm about us like crows, waiting for a display of weakness to strike.”

    Now it Anarawd mocked, “And so the champion of keeping the crown from doing harm from unnecessary wars declares war for the very reason they took the power.”

    Padern stepped toward Anarawd, who did not flinch, “I do what is necessary for the kingdom.”

    Anarawd shook his head in disbelief, “And how will the kingdom reward you?” He looked straight at his father, “The day is close when Ofeig comes for your titles and land. Such is your reward.”

    Padern felt the urge to strike his son, “That day will never dawn. I have done far too much for this kingdom.”

    Anarawd laughed, “You truly believe such dribble?”

    Padern leaned close to his offspring, “What do you hold dear? Your worthless inbreed son?”

    Anarawd showed no emotion as he replied, “Careful father, I am now your heir and Mawgan is my successor.”

    Padern still tight to Anarawd said, “I will personally see that dolt dead before I allow him the chance to inherit my titles and lands.”

    Anarawd chuckled, “You would. But you know fault lies with you.”

    Padern backed away, “How?”

    Anarawd smiled, “It was you who chose Wulfwynn to be my wife.”

    Padern replied, “To give you some importance and a title.”

    Anarawd shook his head, “Do not fool yourself. You wanted me gone. So, you sent me to be a consort.” Anarawd filled with anger, “A consort to a family in which incestuous relationships were common and where they marry their first cousins.” He glared at Padern, “No father Mawgan is your fault, an outcome of your contempt for me.”

    Padern clinched his fists and growled at Anarawd, “I should have killed you when you were born, you worthless slug.”

    Anarawd did not show it, but his father’s statement stung, and per his feeling he replied, “There are those who deem I have great value.”

    Padern shook his head, “What fools would think that?”

    Anarawd smiled, “Irishmen, Welsh, and Anglo-Saxons who tire of the rule of the Nordic pretenders and thieves.”

    Padern looked at Anarawd, “You are a great fool.”

    Anarawd smirked, “Am I? Many in this kingdom feel the time of the House of Hvitserk is waning. For the good of all change is needed. A cleansing of the land from invaders and their lackeys.”

    Shocked at his son’s insolence, Padern said, “Careful of what you speak and of what you pursue.”

    Anarawd replied, “We seek justice.”

    Padern chuckled, “You call replacing Ofeig with his bastard great uncle Count Swæfræd of Gwent justice.”

    Anarawd leaned into his father’s face and stared into his eyes, “We do what we must do to preserve what is right.”

    Padern snickered, “Westmorland and who else? Countess Wulfrun of Leicester? Countess Katarina of Hereford?”

    Anarawd smiled, “You forget Count Yngvar of Hylmerk.”

    Padern laughed, “Hylmerk? What a fine collection of fools your spouse has collected. You will be dead and buried before you have enough strength to ask the king to look in your direction, much less overthrow him.”

    Padern leaned into Anarawd and added, “Go home to your foolish wife. You play at games meant for adults, not pitiful children like yourself.”

    Face red with anger, Anarawd fired back, “You do not understand the depth of our power.”

    In a voice filled with contempt, Paden responded, “Do enlighten me, my child.”

    Falling into his father’s trap, Anarawd roared, “Duchess Ælfthryth of Gwynedd and Jarl Ealdmund of Powys are with us.”

    Padern hide his surprise, “A beaten and moneyless lass and her imbecile of a grandfather. A fine addition they make to your doleful menagerie.”

    Anarawd stepped back from his parent, “I had a fleeting hope you would think of yourself as a savior to our Welsh people, but I see that is wrong. I leave you to your Norse king.”

    Anarawd turned and walked away from his father. Padern stood in silence watching his son leave, anger filling every vein within his body. Anarawd had for all intended announced soon Wulfwynn would lead a rebellion against the king and council. They now had the strength with unexpected addition of Gwynedd and Powys. Doubt crept into his mind. The notion they had underestimated Anarawd and Wulfwynn filled him with ever increasing apprehension.

    Appleby - Westmorland

    Less than a month passed and Bishop Ealdwine of Cartmel entered the solar. Countess Wulfwynn of Westmorland and her husband Anarawd stood in the center of the room. They exchanged greetings.

    Anxious Wulfwynn asked, “How were you received?”

    Sadness appeared in Ealdwine’s face, “Not well, milady.”

    Wulfwynn swallowed the lump in her throat, “Meaning?”

    Ealdwine drew a deep breath and exhaled, “I am afraid the answer is war.”

    Wulfwynn gasped.

    Anarawd’s disappointment showed, “My father?”

    Ealdwine shook his head no, “It was he who delivered their response.”

    Anarawd asked, “What did he say?”

    Ealdwine looked Anarawd in the face and replied, “He said, ‘He would see us burn in Hell.’”

    Anarawd closed his eyes. His worst fears had blossomed.
     
    • 1Love
    Reactions:
    Chapter 9.47 1041 – January – Ossory - Gowran
  • tpmcinty

    Lt. General
    65 Badges
    Mar 9, 2009
    1.245
    946
    • Crusader Kings II
    • Victoria 2: A House Divided
    • Rome Gold
    • Heir to the Throne
    • Divine Wind
    • Europa Universalis III Complete
    • Crusader Kings II: Monks and Mystics
    • Europa Universalis IV: Common Sense
    • Crusader Kings II: Horse Lords
    • Cities: Skylines - Parklife
    • Crusader Kings II: Conclave
    • Stellaris: Apocalypse
    • Hearts of Iron IV: Cadet
    • Crusader Kings II: Reapers Due
    • Europa Universalis IV: Rights of Man
    • Cities: Skylines - Natural Disasters
    • Hearts of Iron IV: Together for Victory
    • Europa Universalis IV: El Dorado
    • Stellaris: Humanoids Species Pack
    • Cities: Skylines - Mass Transit
    • Europa Universalis IV: Mandate of Heaven
    • Europa Universalis IV: Third Rome
    • Hearts of Iron IV: Death or Dishonor
    • Stellaris: Synthetic Dawn
    • Cities: Skylines - Green Cities
    • Cities: Skylines - Parklife Pre-Order
    • Europa Universalis IV: Dharma
    • Crusader Kings II: Holy Fury
    • Stellaris: Megacorp
    • Europa Universalis 4: Emperor
    • Crusader Kings III
    • Cities: Skylines - Campus
    • Imperator: Rome
    • Europa Universalis IV: Golden Century
    • Crusader Kings II: Way of Life
    • Europa Universalis III Complete
    • Europa Universalis III Complete
    • Victoria 2
    • 500k Club
    • Europa Universalis IV: Rule Britannia
    • Europa Universalis IV: Pre-order
    • Cities: Skylines - Snowfall
    • Cities: Skylines - After Dark
    • Europa Universalis IV: Mare Nostrum
    • Europa Universalis IV: Res Publica
    • Crusader Kings II: Charlemagne
    • Crusader Kings II: Legacy of Rome
    • Crusader Kings II: The Old Gods
    • Crusader Kings II: Rajas of India
    Chapter 9.47

    1041 – January – Ossory - Gowran


    The fire in the hearth teased Countess Wulfwynn with its warmth as she rested on a stool in her tent. Marshal of Rebels, Mayor Sigeræd of Lowther, sat beside her drinking warm ale. The mayor handed the note he held to Wulfwynn stating, “Word from Westmorland.”

    She accepted the notice, her eyes not turning from the fire, and replied, “What does my husband say?”

    Sigeræd hesitated. A small smile came to the countess, “I know you read it. I see he addressed it to you.”

    Sigeræd swallowed another drink, “Anarawd reports Fer-Fugaill’s scouts crossed the marches and are moving through Westmorland.”

    Wulfwynn gazed at Sigeræd, “What of their army?”

    Sigeræd glanced at the letter he held, “They mass at the border.”

    Wulfwynn looked back at the fire, “They pay us no heed?”

    Sigeræd watched the flames, “They disregard the threat.”

    Wulfwynn sighed as she reached for the pitcher resting on a nearby table, “We sit here laying siege to Gowran and they ignore our presence.”

    Sigeræd frowned and nodded, “At the time of Anarawd’s letter that appears to be the right assumption.”

    The countess drank some of freshly poured ale and asked, “Why are we here and not fighting for our homes?”

    Sigeræd drained his mug and replied, “Given the size of the force Fer-Fugaill has amassed, staying and defending our homes would cause a short and unsuccessful war.”

    Wulfwynn looked at Sigeræd, “You did not always believe so.”

    Sigeræd chuckled as he reached for the pitcher of ale, “An enemy army of over thirteen thousand troops has a way of making one change his views.”

    Wulfwynn raised an eyebrow and asked, “Now you think Merab’s plan is correct.”

    Sigeræd drank his ale and shrugged his shoulders, “What I think is immaterial. We have little choice in the matter. As Merab has stated our only hope is to either force Fer-Fugaill to split his troops or to stretch them out and attack when they cannot fight as one. Being half the size of Ofeig’s Army, we can maneuver quicker than Fer-Fugaill. We must wear them down chasing us through Ireland, Wales, and Mercia. When the time is right, we strike and cripple them.” He smiled, “And if we take a few cities along the way, it will aid us greatly.”

    Wulfwynn with concern asked, “You bear no ill feelings that a mercenary commander commands our armies.”

    Sigeræd shook his head, “If the Monrealian Band was not present we would have only half the number of soldiers we now have and sitting in Appleby while Fer-Fugaill lobs stones at our walls. I am aware of the reputation of the Monrealian Band and they come highly recommended by Jarl Ealdmund of Powys.”

    Wulfwynn nodded and added, “Without Ealdmund we could not afford any mercenaries. I will not forget his generous contribution.”

    Sigeræd agreed, “Yes, it should not.” He looked at Wulfwynn and said, “You asked if I bore ill will over not being the overall commander. I do not. I have lead men before, but it has only been as a commander of our levies against bandits or rebellious peasants. I am not the person to command troops in this endeavor. As a whole, we lack experienced commanders. The most qualified is Jarl Ealdmund, but his age and health keep him from the field. Duchess Ælfthryth’s captains have shown their incompetence in their mishandling of the long civil war between the Jarldom of Gwynedd and the County of Gloucester.”

    “What of Count Yngvar of Hylmrek?” asked Wulfwynn.

    Sigeræd took another swallow of ale, “He has served as a commander under Öysteinn and others. His record, however, is uneventful. Many times, they entrusted him with guarding the supply train or prisoners. Rarely did he command men in battle.”

    They both in silence stared at the fire becoming mesmerized by the dancing flames. A few moments passed and Wulfwynn came out of her trance, “Are there any changes with Count Swæfræd?”

    Sigeræd shook his head, “No, he remains at Gwent under guard. Padern ordered his brother Count Peredyr of Dyfed to watch him.”

    Wulfwynn snickered, “Such a pity.”
     
    • 1Love
    Reactions:
    Chapter 9.48 1041 - February - Westmorland
  • tpmcinty

    Lt. General
    65 Badges
    Mar 9, 2009
    1.245
    946
    • Crusader Kings II
    • Victoria 2: A House Divided
    • Rome Gold
    • Heir to the Throne
    • Divine Wind
    • Europa Universalis III Complete
    • Crusader Kings II: Monks and Mystics
    • Europa Universalis IV: Common Sense
    • Crusader Kings II: Horse Lords
    • Cities: Skylines - Parklife
    • Crusader Kings II: Conclave
    • Stellaris: Apocalypse
    • Hearts of Iron IV: Cadet
    • Crusader Kings II: Reapers Due
    • Europa Universalis IV: Rights of Man
    • Cities: Skylines - Natural Disasters
    • Hearts of Iron IV: Together for Victory
    • Europa Universalis IV: El Dorado
    • Stellaris: Humanoids Species Pack
    • Cities: Skylines - Mass Transit
    • Europa Universalis IV: Mandate of Heaven
    • Europa Universalis IV: Third Rome
    • Hearts of Iron IV: Death or Dishonor
    • Stellaris: Synthetic Dawn
    • Cities: Skylines - Green Cities
    • Cities: Skylines - Parklife Pre-Order
    • Europa Universalis IV: Dharma
    • Crusader Kings II: Holy Fury
    • Stellaris: Megacorp
    • Europa Universalis 4: Emperor
    • Crusader Kings III
    • Cities: Skylines - Campus
    • Imperator: Rome
    • Europa Universalis IV: Golden Century
    • Crusader Kings II: Way of Life
    • Europa Universalis III Complete
    • Europa Universalis III Complete
    • Victoria 2
    • 500k Club
    • Europa Universalis IV: Rule Britannia
    • Europa Universalis IV: Pre-order
    • Cities: Skylines - Snowfall
    • Cities: Skylines - After Dark
    • Europa Universalis IV: Mare Nostrum
    • Europa Universalis IV: Res Publica
    • Crusader Kings II: Charlemagne
    • Crusader Kings II: Legacy of Rome
    • Crusader Kings II: The Old Gods
    • Crusader Kings II: Rajas of India
    Chapter 9.48

    1041 - February - Westmorland


    Frustrated, Fer-Fugaill stormed into the command tent with his commanders Bishop Harold of Furness and Barhélémi de Médidan close behind him. Fer-Fugaill walked to the large table in the center of the tent. Harold and Barhélémi stood next to their commander. Fer-Fugaill looked over those assembled.

    His eyes fell first upon Þegn Vagn of Warwick. Disgust filled Fer-Fugaill looking at the Steward of Jorvik. Fer-Fugaill discerned Vagn’s sole purpose with the army was to spy on him and report back to Padern. The result of the backing he received from Prince Sigeberht and Arngrimr. The general loathed the politics and plotting occurring within the Council and believed it had led to this war. He did, however, hope things would change once Ofeig became king without the regency council. Fer-Fugaill prayed for the removal and replacement of certain members.

    The next person catching Fer-Fugaill’s gaze was Jarl Cenfus of East Anglia, the husband of Duchess Ealhswith. Cenfus was little more than a figurehead. Ealhswith was the ruler of East Anglia and spymaster for the realm. As a spymaster Fer-Fugaill did not trust her, and as one of Padern’s allies he trusted her even less. Cenfus had thus far proven to be competent in command of his wife’s levies, but Fer-Fugaill held lingering doubts.

    The two men standing next to Cenfus were strangers to Fer-Fugaill in all but name. Jarl Hlothere of Mann arrived a week ago with his small levy. Word from Harold was Hlothere was a good solider, did as commanded with no complaints. Count Yngvar of Lincoln came only a few days before Hlothere. Yngvar had remained aloof during the days between his arrival and now. Fer-Fugaill could not make a judgement of the count. He knew not to trust someone who kept to themselves.

    The last man Fer-Fugaill eyed nodded and smiled back. Fer-Fugaill returned the smile and nod. Out of all those present Condottiere Bassiano of the Company of the Rose, Fer-Fugaill believed he understood. A professional solider Fer-Fugaill knew Bassiano’s loyalties would stay as long as the gold promised to the mercenary captain was paid. Suspicious of mercenaries, Fer-Fugaill felt most comfortable with them. The Council contracted the Company of the Rose to give Jorvik a quick infusion of trained and ready troops. This became important once the Rebels hired the Monrealian Band.

    Fer-Fugaill looked at the dispatch he held in his hand once again. As he studied the gathering, he stated, “Gentlemen, if you please.”

    The group stopped talking amongst itself and paid attention to the general.

    “We need to prepare to move the army.”

    Vagn spoke without being asked, “Good, about time we invaded Westmorland.”

    Annoyed at the interruption, Fer-Fugaill continued, “All scouts have been recalled and we await their return.”

    Again, to Fer-Fugaill’s disdain, Vagn interrupted, “Scouts recalled? How? Why? We will not know what lay before us as we march to Appleby.”

    Fer-Fugaill glared at Vagn, “If the Þegn would allow me to explain. We are not marching on Appleby.”

    Cenfus now garnered Fer-Fugaill’s ire by responding, “We are not going to Appleby. Then where?”

    Fer-Fugaill directed his glare at Ealhswith’s husband, who was clearly acting as instructed by his wife, “We will move southeast to Chester.”

    “Chester?” Vagn and Cenfus called out.

    Fer-Fugaill ran several scenarios for punishing Vagn and Cenfus for their continuing interruptions but thought better of it for the moment.

    “We have confirmed the location of the Rebel army.” Expecting another interruption, Fer-Fugaill glared at Vagn and Cenfus. “They are not in Westmorland. The Rebels are not on this island.”

    Unexpectedly Jarl Hlothere spoke, “They are in Ireland. That is why you wanted my ships.”

    Fer-Fugaill nodded and looked at Hlothere, “Yes, on both statements.” Fer-Fugaill directed his gaze to the whole group, “To be specific, they are in Ossory laying siege to Gowran.”

    Yngvar broke his silence, “That is pretty ballsy of them.”

    Fer-Fugaill chuckled at the Count of Lincoln’s reaction, “It maybe but it is the situation we must deal with.”

    Vagn again inserted himself, “Who will command the contingent left to besiege Appleby?”

    Fer-Fugaill could read between the lines and knew Vagn desired such a charge, “No one.”

    Before Fer-Fugaill finished, Vagn protested, “No one?”

    Fer-Fugaill glared at Vagn, “Yes, no one. The entire army is routing to Chester.”

    Cenfus sheepishly asked, “What of Appleby?”

    Fer-Feguaill responded, “What of it? It will be there when we have dealt with the Rebel army.”

    Before anyone could respond, Fer-Fugaill held up his hand and ordered, “Go to your respective levies and prepare them for the march. We head to Chester by midday. You are all dismissed.”

    The group broke apart and left the tent. Fer-Fugaill called out, “Condottiere Bassiano, a moment please.”

    Bassiano halted and turned and walked to Fer-Fugaill, “As you wish.”

    Fer-Fugaill looked at the mercenary captain, “You did not speak.”

    Bassiano grinned, “I was not asked.”

    Fer-Fugaill smiled, “I am asking now.”

    Bassiano rubbed his chin, “I think it brazened to forego any attempt to take the home of the rebel leader. However, I understand why you might not want to split the army.”

    Intrigued, Fer-Fugaill asked, “why is that?”

    Bassiano nodded, “Being frank, besides myself and Bishop Harold,” pointing at Harold who had remained behind, “the rest of these so-called leaders are not fit to command the digging of latrines. Given such a situation, I would trust none of them with conducting such a siege.” Bassiano grinned, “But I feel that may not be the only reason.”

    Fer-Fugaill chuckled at Bassiano’s frankness. “You are correct,”

    Bassiano nodded. Fer-Fugaill continued, “The Scottish army has crossed the frontier between Cumberland and Westmorland. They will have Appleby under siege within a month.”

    Bassiano was proud of himself, “Is there anything else you require of me, lord general?”

    Fer-Fugaill shook his head, “No not at this time.”

    Bassiano nodded, “I then go to make my troops ready.” He bowed and left the tent.

    Fer-Fugaill turned and faced Harold. The bishop grinned and said, “A rather blunt individual.”

    Fer-Fugaill nodded, “He can afford to be.” Not surprised Harold had remained, Fer-Fugaill was seeing why Öysteinn had relied on him so much. Harold was an excellent second-in-command. He had a knack for understanding the situation without asking, and he had the guts to speak out when needed.

    “You remained behind for a reason?” Fer-Fugaill inquired.

    Harold smiled, “We are not traveling to Chester, are we?”

    Fer-Fugaill chuckled, “We are going in that general direction.”

    Harold nodded, “I suspected as much.”

    Fer-Fugaill unrolled a map on the table and pointed. “We need scouts to proceed to the coast as quickly as possible and take boats south along the Irish Sea.”

    Harold now traced a route and stopped, “To Dyfed and the St George’s Channel.” Harold looked up at Fer-Fugaill. “You do not expect them to continue the siege once they know we are on the move.”

    Fer-Fugaill nodded, “Merab may be a mercenary, but he is not dumb. Once he knows we are moving, he will abandon the siege and withdraw from Ireland. He does not want to be trapped on that island.”

    Harold nodded, “Dyfed. He must cross the channel before we cut him off.”

    Fer-Fugaill frowned, “We can never get enough troops to Dyfed to prevent his crossing. Once he has landed, he will orchestrate a merry chase around Wales and western Mercia.”

    Harold understood and took a deep breath, “Wear our army out. Stretch us out in a desperate pursuit of his smaller and quicker force.”

    Fer-Fugaill agreed, “Attack when we are spread out or separated. He may not win a battle, but he can inflict casualties. Not all will be to men. He will undermine morale.” Fer-Fugaill looked at Harold, “It is the only means by which he can hope to defeat us.”

    Harold knew Fer-Fugaill was correct. He had seen the same tactic used by the now King Ealdmund of England during the Wiltshire Claim War. “We must avoid such a scenario. We need to trap him and crush his army.”

    Fer-Fugaill liked how Harold’s mind worked, “It is imperative we bring him to battle quickly.”

    Harold nodded, “It will be difficult as they are in familiar territory in Gwynedd and Powys.”

    Fer-Fugaill thought for a moment, “Perhaps we can use that against them and force them to come to us.”

    Curious, Harold asked, “How?”

    Fer-Fugaill stated without emotion, “Prepare raiding parties to strike against Gwynedd and Powys.”

    Harold smiled devilishly, “They must protect their lands otherwise the locals will rise against them.”

    Fer-Fugaill joined Harold in smiling, “Once they do. We have them.”
     
    • 1Love
    Reactions:
    Chapter 9.49 1041 – April
  • tpmcinty

    Lt. General
    65 Badges
    Mar 9, 2009
    1.245
    946
    • Crusader Kings II
    • Victoria 2: A House Divided
    • Rome Gold
    • Heir to the Throne
    • Divine Wind
    • Europa Universalis III Complete
    • Crusader Kings II: Monks and Mystics
    • Europa Universalis IV: Common Sense
    • Crusader Kings II: Horse Lords
    • Cities: Skylines - Parklife
    • Crusader Kings II: Conclave
    • Stellaris: Apocalypse
    • Hearts of Iron IV: Cadet
    • Crusader Kings II: Reapers Due
    • Europa Universalis IV: Rights of Man
    • Cities: Skylines - Natural Disasters
    • Hearts of Iron IV: Together for Victory
    • Europa Universalis IV: El Dorado
    • Stellaris: Humanoids Species Pack
    • Cities: Skylines - Mass Transit
    • Europa Universalis IV: Mandate of Heaven
    • Europa Universalis IV: Third Rome
    • Hearts of Iron IV: Death or Dishonor
    • Stellaris: Synthetic Dawn
    • Cities: Skylines - Green Cities
    • Cities: Skylines - Parklife Pre-Order
    • Europa Universalis IV: Dharma
    • Crusader Kings II: Holy Fury
    • Stellaris: Megacorp
    • Europa Universalis 4: Emperor
    • Crusader Kings III
    • Cities: Skylines - Campus
    • Imperator: Rome
    • Europa Universalis IV: Golden Century
    • Crusader Kings II: Way of Life
    • Europa Universalis III Complete
    • Europa Universalis III Complete
    • Victoria 2
    • 500k Club
    • Europa Universalis IV: Rule Britannia
    • Europa Universalis IV: Pre-order
    • Cities: Skylines - Snowfall
    • Cities: Skylines - After Dark
    • Europa Universalis IV: Mare Nostrum
    • Europa Universalis IV: Res Publica
    • Crusader Kings II: Charlemagne
    • Crusader Kings II: Legacy of Rome
    • Crusader Kings II: The Old Gods
    • Crusader Kings II: Rajas of India
    Chapter 9.49

    1041 – April


    Ofeig studied the map resting on the table in the strategy room. At Ofeig’s request, Arngrimr and Sigeberht had taken an unused chamber and converted into a place to plan and monitor the war. No longer would the king, his generals, and advisors cram into the library.

    Ofeig examined the wooden blocks that represented the Rebel army and the army of Fer-Fugaill. Based on the most recent week-old information, the wood blocks were on a collision course somewhere in County Powys.

    Ofeig took his finger and placed it in County Ossory in Ireland. He then traced it across the St. George’s Channel and into County Dyfed. He looked up at his uncle, Prince Sigeberht.

    “Once Merab knew Fer-Fugaill abandoned the invasion of Westmorland, he lifted the siege of Gowran and returned to Wales.”

    Sigeberht nodded, “Yes, milord. Knowing Fer-Fugaill was marching to meet him, Merab had to evacuate Ireland. Merab trapped in Ireland meant Fer-Fugaill needed to only prevent the rebels from leaving Ireland. With troops not being used for that purpose, Fer-Fugaill could lay siege to any city in rebellion without worry of attack.”

    Ofeig looked at the block representing the Scottish army. It now rested next to Fer-Fugaill’s army. “I thought the Scottish were going to stay in Westmorland and besiege Appleby.”

    Sigeberht pointed to the Rebel Army, “At first that was Fer-Fugaill’s plan. But the rebel army has swelled in size to over six thousand troops. Fer-Fugaill has a little over eight thousand Jorvikian levies under his command. Fer-Fugaill seeks a battle to destroy the Rebel army. He convinced King Gilchrist to join his Scottish troops with his Jorvikians giving Fer-Fugaill almost fourteen thousand soldiers.”

    Arngrimr spoke, “Now he must bring the Wulfwynnian troops to battle.”

    All heads turned to the door as Jarl Padern, Marshal of Jorvik, entered the chamber. He carried a dispatch with him. Ofeig’s eyes narrowed as he watched the jarl approach. Ofeig could only think of how in ten months’ time when he was king outright, he could at last rid himself of the traitorous Welshman.

    Padern stopped when he reached the table and bowed.

    “Sire, Lord Regent, and Prince, I bring a messenger from Fer-Fugaill.”

    Ofeig thought his heart skipped a beat. He wondered if this was the tale of another missed opportunity or Fer-Fugaill had caught and battled the elusive rebels.

    Arngrimr looked at Padern and ordered, “Bring him forth.”

    Padern turned and nodded. A man entered the chamber.

    Seeing him, Arngrimr exclaimed, “Þegn Vagn.”

    Sigeberht stepped toward Vagn and Padern. “What news do you carry Vagn?”

    Ofeig gazed at Þegn of Warwick with suspicion, unsure he could trust an ally of Padern.

    Vagn looked around the room and smiled. “After Merab lead Fer-Fugaill in circle for the better part of a month, a blessing came to Fer-Fugaill. Without such a windfall, the Lord General would have never forced the Rebels into combat.”

    Arngrimr asked, “Why did you need luck?”

    Vagn’s reply dripped with smugness, “Merab is a very skilled general himself. Since his force was half the size of Fer-Fugaill’s he could move quicker. He always seemed one step ahead.”

    Annoyance growing at Vagn’s recitation, Sigeberht said, “Tell us about this fortune.”

    It was obvious Vagn was trying to tarnish Fer-Fugaill. “After several days of heavy spring rain, it washed out a number of bridges crossing streams and rivers out. Merab found himself trapped near Mathrafal.”

    “Merab proved himself to be a capable general. He chose a very defendable position on the side of a hill, forcing our troops to fight uphill. Fer-Fugaill threw our soldiers against Merab’s well placed defenders. Three times they broke our charges. At last Fer-Fugaill committed the reserves, and they turned the Rebel flank. The flank turned. The Rebels collapsed.”

    Smiles and nods filled the chamber. Ofeig breathed a sigh of relief but, he felt there was more by the way Vagn acted.

    Ofeig probed, “Þegn is there more?”

    Vagn nodded and smile, “Yes Sire there is.” He again looked around the room.

    “During the rout, Countess Wulfwynn found herself separated from her troops. They asked her to surrender, but she fought. In the ensuing melee Flavio, the Marshal of the Company of the Rose killed her.”

    Sigeberht cursed, “Damn her. She knew she was going to die.”

    Confused, Ofeig inquired, “She is deceased. Is that not helpful?”

    Sigeberht shook his head, “If she surrendered or taken alive, the conflict is over. Dead her heir becomes leader of the rebellion and the fighting continues.”

    Ofeig looked around the chamber. None desired to ask the obvious, so he did, “Who is Wulfwynn’s heir?”

    No one spoke. The silence hung heavy in the hall. At long last, Sigeberht responded, “Eight-year-old Mawgan.” He stared straight at Padern, “Jarl Padern’s grandson.”

    Ofeig’s mouth dropped open as he peered at the Jarl of Deheubarth. Padern’s face was stone cold, showing no emotion. Revealing nothing of his feelings, Padern replied, “He is my grandson by my third born son, Anarawd.”

    Ofeig’s mistrust of Padern was now reaching a new low as he asked, “Who is regent?”

    Without changing his appearance, Padern answered, “Anarawd.”

    Ofeig looking at Padern said, “Your son?”

    Padern concurred.

    Ofeig’s gaze became more concentrated, “You oppose him?”

    The first break came in Padern’s demeanor as he replied in a hushed and uncertain tone, “I have no choice. Do I?”

    Ofeig continued with his grilling, “And he? Will he battle his father?”

    Slow and deliberate with a hint of sadness, Padern nodded, “He made it crystal clear the last time we spoke, he will fight.”

    Silence hung heavy in the room. Sigeberht turned his attention back to Vagn, “What of the Rebel army?”

    Vagn frowned, “I fear over three thousand escaped to fight another day.”

    “Three thousand is large enough to cause havoc,” a worried Arngrimr said.

    Vagn agreed, “Fer-Fugaill feels the same. He aims to destroy them.”

    All present acknowledged their approval.

    After the meeting, Padern retired to his chambers. Once there as he stood before the hearth and the small fire within, he sipped some ale. His most trusted aid entered the room.

    The aide said, “You summoned me, milord.”

    Not looking, Padern commanded, “Go to Appleby with all due haste. I need to speak with my son.”

    The aide without hesitation replied, “As you command, milord.”

    The aide bowed and left the apartment. Padern heard the door shut. He threw the last of the ale on the fire in disgust.

    *****

    Almost two weeks later Padern, dressed in a dark cloak, stood in the narthex of a ruined church near the Westmorland-Jorvik border. The Northmen had destroyed the church and the surrounding villages during one of their first raids. They never rebuilt it and the village as the inhabitants were either slain or taken as slaves.

    The sound of someone approaching sent Padern to reach for the hilt of his sword under his cloak. He turned and faced the advancing man. When he was several feet from Padern, the man withdrew his hood revealing himself to be Anarawd. Padern removed his hood.

    Anarawd looked at his father saying, “You wanted to talk.”

    Padern responded, “It is good to see you.”

    Anarawd replied, “I am here to hear you talk, so talk.”

    Padern, realizing there was no difference in Anarawd, reacted, “You have not changed.”

    Anarawd scoffed, “Why would I change?”

    Padern shook his head, “I thought the death of your wife would have had made you rethink your ways.”

    “The martyring of my wife,” Anarawd chuckled, “She died for the cause.”

    Padern replied, “Cause? What cause?”

    Anarawd laughed, “Look around you.” He gestured to the ruins. “This is the work of the Northmen. The very Northmen you follow.”

    Anger building, Padern responded, “I serve my king.”

    Anarawd snickered, “Serve your king for how much longer? Ofeig comes of age soon. How long do you think he will keep you around once he is lord and master of the Council?”

    Padern glared at his son, “I have done what was necessary for the kingdom and his survival.”

    Anarawd shook his head, “And you will be surely rewarded.”

    Padern fought the urge to hit his descendant, “What of your offspring, Mawgan? Are you not his regent?”

    Anarawd replied, “I am.”

    Padern smirked, “And how do manipulate him?”

    Anarawd smiled, “He is the leader of our cause and I act accordingly.”

    Padern scoffed, “How can he be a leader? The boy cannot take ten steps without losing his breath. He can barely swallow food. He is not a leader, but your pawn.”

    Anarawd leaned into Padern, “He is what he is. You married me to Wulfwynn with no consideration to the inbreeding of her family. He will most likely not live to see his tenth birthday.”

    Now Padern got into Anarawd’s face, “That would be convenient for you since you are his successor.”

    Anarawd smirked, “And I am your heir as well.”

    Padern scowled at Anarawd, “Perhaps I should take care of that now.” He reached under his cloak for his sword.

    Anarawd laughed, “And then the poor inbreed will be your successor.”

    Padern stopped and gawked at Anarawd. He spat at the ground at his son’s feet, threw up his hood, and stormed out of the ruins, his ears full of Anarawd’s laughter.
     
    • 1Love
    Reactions:
    Chapter 9.50 1041 – August - Jorvik
  • tpmcinty

    Lt. General
    65 Badges
    Mar 9, 2009
    1.245
    946
    • Crusader Kings II
    • Victoria 2: A House Divided
    • Rome Gold
    • Heir to the Throne
    • Divine Wind
    • Europa Universalis III Complete
    • Crusader Kings II: Monks and Mystics
    • Europa Universalis IV: Common Sense
    • Crusader Kings II: Horse Lords
    • Cities: Skylines - Parklife
    • Crusader Kings II: Conclave
    • Stellaris: Apocalypse
    • Hearts of Iron IV: Cadet
    • Crusader Kings II: Reapers Due
    • Europa Universalis IV: Rights of Man
    • Cities: Skylines - Natural Disasters
    • Hearts of Iron IV: Together for Victory
    • Europa Universalis IV: El Dorado
    • Stellaris: Humanoids Species Pack
    • Cities: Skylines - Mass Transit
    • Europa Universalis IV: Mandate of Heaven
    • Europa Universalis IV: Third Rome
    • Hearts of Iron IV: Death or Dishonor
    • Stellaris: Synthetic Dawn
    • Cities: Skylines - Green Cities
    • Cities: Skylines - Parklife Pre-Order
    • Europa Universalis IV: Dharma
    • Crusader Kings II: Holy Fury
    • Stellaris: Megacorp
    • Europa Universalis 4: Emperor
    • Crusader Kings III
    • Cities: Skylines - Campus
    • Imperator: Rome
    • Europa Universalis IV: Golden Century
    • Crusader Kings II: Way of Life
    • Europa Universalis III Complete
    • Europa Universalis III Complete
    • Victoria 2
    • 500k Club
    • Europa Universalis IV: Rule Britannia
    • Europa Universalis IV: Pre-order
    • Cities: Skylines - Snowfall
    • Cities: Skylines - After Dark
    • Europa Universalis IV: Mare Nostrum
    • Europa Universalis IV: Res Publica
    • Crusader Kings II: Charlemagne
    • Crusader Kings II: Legacy of Rome
    • Crusader Kings II: The Old Gods
    • Crusader Kings II: Rajas of India
    Chapter 9.50

    1041 – August - Jorvik


    Furious, Ofeig slammed his fist onto the table with all his might. The contact made a loud cracking sound, like distant thunder rolling across the sky. Items on the table endured his fury as they jumped and scattered. Cups rolled about and papers went askew, a few landing on the floor. Those in attendance stood in silence looking at one another and the fifteen-year-old king before them

    “I may not yet be king in my own right, but this is intolerable,” Ofeig roared. “Never should this have happened.”

    “Your Highness,” Arngrimr began. He never finished as one look at the enraged Ofeig brought the regent to silence.

    Sigeberht inhaled slowly as his nephew reminded him of his father, King Rædwald, when the latter flew into a rage. Deep down Sigeberht harbored a sinking feeling this outburst would be a harbinger of things to come. The scheming, the plotting, and manipulation were hardening and driving the young man into someone determined to be his own man perhaps in ways one should not venture. Sigeberht glared at Padern and Ealhswith, laying the blame at their feet.

    Ofeig continued his tirade, “Jorvikian blood, we spent good blood.” Banging the table again. This time with less force, “Are you telling me the Lord General Öysteinn gave his life for this farce?”

    Trying once more to reason with Ofeig Arngrimr stated, “they swore No oaths. No guarantees given.”

    Ofeig glared at Arngrimr, “Oaths, guarantees be damned. It was on the backs of my soldiers which gave Maud her title. She owned us, her allegiance.”

    Arngrimr protest, “Under feudal law there was no recourse to force her to accept vassalage.”

    Ofeig’s glare became more intense, “What of our armies? Were they not in Wiltshire?”

    Arngrimr continued to resist, “Yes, but…”

    Ofeig interrupted, “But what?”

    Arngrimr swallowed, “They held no authority.”

    Ofeig shook his head and threw his arms up, “Were they unarmed? Were they sleeping or under a spell?”

    Arngrimr looked around the room for help. Finding none he stammered, “No, Your Grace. Forcing her vassalage by a force of arms would be considered unlawful and recognized as an act of tyranny by the nobles and the Church.”

    Ofeig scoffed, “The blood of my soldiers, the sacrifice of my Lord General far outweighs any label of tyranny.” Ofeig turned his glare to Padern and Ealhswith. “Allowing them to be abandoned is the true tyranny.”

    Shocked Arngrimr responded, “But the Church?”

    Ofeig chuckled, “The Church. Given time and gold, all will be swept aside.”

    Arngrimr began to speak but Sigeberht stepped before him, blocking him from Ofeig’s view. The prince knew nothing would be gained. Directing his gaze to Ealhswith he asked, “Why would Maud accept vassalage under King Ealdmund?”

    For a moment Ealhswith panicked. She had the answer but was unprepared to respond. She took a moment to gather herself. Before Ofeig spoke she answered, “There was a show of force by the English.”

    Ofeig sneered, “A show of force?”

    The king’s actions had unnerved Ealhswith. Within a year Ofeig would no longer be shackled by the regency council which was a bad omen for her and her fellow conspirators. She studied Padern, but he showed no emotion, not displaying his inner thoughts.

    Her mouth feeling dry, she replied, “Knowing we are busy elsewhere, Ealdmund had his invitation delivered by a thousand troops on the border.”

    Ofeig shook his head. He peered down at the table, “So much waste. So much waste.” He glanced up, “It is as if the war never happened. Wiltshire is still English.” Looking at Padern, then Ealhswith, and finally Arngrimr Ofeig said, “Curse you, damn you all.”

    Silence filled the strategy room. Ofeig wondered if he had overstepped himself, but he realized he did not care. Time was coming where he would rule, not these fools. He shifted away from the table and walked to the large map hanging on the wall. It showed the kingdoms of the Isle, Jorvik, England, Scotland, and Cornwall. He clasped his hands behind his back and stared hard at Wales.

    He asked, “What of the war?”

    He turned and faced Padern. For a moment he thought he saw Padern flinch. Ofeig grinned: You see a reckoning is coming.

    “Lord Marshal, you said you had word. We gather here to hear you.”

    Ofeig’s conduct today had been unsettling to Padern. He wondered if he was losing control or had lost it. Padern’s mind devised escape plans and schemes. The king’s question had shocked him back into the present.

    “Fer-Fugaill defeated the rebels near Abberfraw. He is relentlessly pursing them.”

    Ofeig nodded, “To where do they retreat?”

    Padern answered, “Westmorland.”

    Confused, Ofeig asked, “Did we not drive them from the county last month?”

    Padern concurred, “yes, Your Grace. Fer-Fugaill defeated them at the approaches of Appleby.”

    Ofeig enquired, “And they seek to return. Why?”

    Padern shrugged his shoulders, “I know not and Fer-Fugaill did not offer any reasons. They blocked the routes south to Powys and Bedford.”

    Ofeig looked at Padern, “I want this war done.”

    Padern nodded.

    Ofeig turned back to the map, “Thank you.”

    All understood his meaning. Arngrimr all but ran from the chamber. Together, Padern and Ealhswith left with haste. They walked down the corridor in silence. Once they were sure they were alone, they ducked into the empty dining hall.

    Padern looked around the room with caution. Assuring himself none other than Ealhswith and he were present, he nodded.

    Ealhswith let out the breath she had been holding for some time, “Ofeig grows bolder and bolder each day.”

    Padern concurred, “With Sigeberht’s encouragement, I am sure.”

    Ealhswith shook her head, “Control is slipping away. He will come for us.”

    Padern growled, “Arngrimr is no longer reliable. He fears the king and the end of the regency. Appointing Prince Eilif to the Council and losing Bishop Wistan has left us in the minority.”

    Ealhswith paced nervously, “When the regency is done, Ofeig will move on us. He has stated such.”

    Padern frowned, “I fear you speak the truth.” He rubbed his chin and said, “When need to deflect his interest to something else. Something close to his heart.”

    Curious but fearful, Ealhswith probed, “What could such a thing be?”

    A sinister grin came to Padern, “Lost oaths.”

    Confused, Ealhswith asked, “Lost oaths?”

    The smirk became larger, “Maud’s lost oaths.”

    Ealhswith shook her head, “They are long gone. Destroyed.”

    The smirk grew into a smile, “Perhaps not.”

    Surprised, Ealhswith responded, “What? How? I saw their burning.”

    Padern replied, “Are you sure they destroyed all?”

    Now beginning to doubt herself, Ealhswith answered, “Yes,” She hesitated, “As far as I know.”

    Padern almost chuckled, “What if I told a copy survived?”

    Ealhswith narrowed her eyes, “And I suppose you know where it is.”

    Padern feigned shock, “How would I know about such a document?”

    Ealhswith grew annoyed, “Toy, not with me. My patience run thin these days.”

    Padern asked, “Are you not still searching for them as the king ordered.”

    Ealhswith eyed Padern sideways, “You know there is nothing. But the king asked, I would respond, ‘yes, with all my powers.’”

    Padern gazed at Ealhswith, “What if you report they found a copy?”

    Ealhswith not trusting Padern replied, “And where would these oaths be discovered?”

    Padern smile grew huge, “Arngrimr.”

    Finally understanding, Ealhswith returned the smile.

    *****

    Sigeberht spoke, “You must be more controlled.”

    With his head down, Ofeig turned to face his uncle, “I grow weary of their arrogance and falsehoods.”

    Sigeberht nodded, “I too. I would like to see their titles striped from them and them rotting in the dungeons.”

    Ofeig looked at Sigeberht, “When I am king, that shall be their fate.”

    Sigeberht shook his head, “You cannot.”

    Annoyed at his uncle’s response, Ofeig replied, “Why not? I will be king in my own right.”

    Sigeberht looked at Ofeig, “They are powerful lords with many lands and vassals. They command large levies.”

    Ofeig sighed, “Then they go unpunished.” He threw his left arm up, “The great war they championed cost Rígán his place, Öysteinn his life, the lives of scores of soldiers, and the gold spent. For what? So, Maud could rule as a vassal of King Ealdmund.”

    Sigeberht began to argue, but a figure appeared at the door. Both Sigeberht and Ofeig glared at him. Undaunted, the individual stated, “I bring a message from Aquitaine for the Chancellor.”

    Surprised at the courier and his boldness, Sigeberht approached him. A few steps before the herald Sigeberht halted. The prince sensed a familiarity with the bearded man. He was too formal to be a simple messenger.

    Sigeberht said, “Duke Bertrand of Bourbon?”

    Bertrand smiled, “I wondered if you would recall me.”

    Sigeberht smiled, “As one Chancellor to another I would hope I could.”

    Bertrand nodded. Ofeig approached and asked, “Why would the Chancellor of Aquitaine pose as a courier?”

    Bertrand looked at Ofeig, “I do not pose as a courier. I am one.”

    A wave of dread and concern filled Sigeberht, “Why did you come bearing a message.”

    Bertrand handed Sigeberht a letter, “I regret to inform you your aunt Princess Bodil Eilifsdotter, widow of King Gargamel, passed onto God. Cancer taking her.”

    Sigeberht swallowed, “Thank you. You need not brought this yourself.”

    Bertrand grinned, “I know. I bring other dispatches we can discuss later.”

    Sigeberht nodded, “Very well. We shall see you have accommodations and a chance to freshen yourself.”

    Bertrand smiled, “Thank you.”

    Sigeberht called to a guard and instructed him to attend to Bertrand’s needs. Afterwards Bertrand left with the guard.

    Sigeberht leaned against the wall. Ofeig seeing his uncle do so asked, “Did you know Bodil well?”

    Sigeberht sighed, “Yes, as a young boy. She was my first tutor.” Ofeig could glimpse a tear forming as Sigeberht continued, “She was always so sad. I remember such.”

    Concerned and curious, Ofeig questioned, “Why, uncle?”

    Sigeberht took a breath, “Your great aunt married a French noble, and they had three children together. They made him a bishop and their marriage annulled. They sent her back to Jorvik without her children. They took them from her and made them wards of the Church in her former husband’s bishopric.”

    Shaken, Ofeig replied, “That is horrible.”

    Sigeberht nodded, “Yes it was. After spending several years tutoring your father and other children, your father had her marry King Gargamel of Aquitaine. The hope being as Queen of Aquitaine she could take her children back.”

    Curious, Ofeig asked, “Did she get them back?”

    Sigeberht shook his head, “Unfortunately King Gargamel died in a joust after only being king on his own for less than three years.”

    Ofeig stood silent. He could not find any words. Finally, Sigeberht put his arm on Ofeig’s shoulder and said, “Let’s see if we can get something to eat. I fear we have almost missed the noon time meal.”

    Ofeig smiled and walked with his uncle out of the room and toward the kitchen.
     
    • 1Love
    Reactions:
    Chapter 9.51 1041 – September - Jorvik
  • tpmcinty

    Lt. General
    65 Badges
    Mar 9, 2009
    1.245
    946
    • Crusader Kings II
    • Victoria 2: A House Divided
    • Rome Gold
    • Heir to the Throne
    • Divine Wind
    • Europa Universalis III Complete
    • Crusader Kings II: Monks and Mystics
    • Europa Universalis IV: Common Sense
    • Crusader Kings II: Horse Lords
    • Cities: Skylines - Parklife
    • Crusader Kings II: Conclave
    • Stellaris: Apocalypse
    • Hearts of Iron IV: Cadet
    • Crusader Kings II: Reapers Due
    • Europa Universalis IV: Rights of Man
    • Cities: Skylines - Natural Disasters
    • Hearts of Iron IV: Together for Victory
    • Europa Universalis IV: El Dorado
    • Stellaris: Humanoids Species Pack
    • Cities: Skylines - Mass Transit
    • Europa Universalis IV: Mandate of Heaven
    • Europa Universalis IV: Third Rome
    • Hearts of Iron IV: Death or Dishonor
    • Stellaris: Synthetic Dawn
    • Cities: Skylines - Green Cities
    • Cities: Skylines - Parklife Pre-Order
    • Europa Universalis IV: Dharma
    • Crusader Kings II: Holy Fury
    • Stellaris: Megacorp
    • Europa Universalis 4: Emperor
    • Crusader Kings III
    • Cities: Skylines - Campus
    • Imperator: Rome
    • Europa Universalis IV: Golden Century
    • Crusader Kings II: Way of Life
    • Europa Universalis III Complete
    • Europa Universalis III Complete
    • Victoria 2
    • 500k Club
    • Europa Universalis IV: Rule Britannia
    • Europa Universalis IV: Pre-order
    • Cities: Skylines - Snowfall
    • Cities: Skylines - After Dark
    • Europa Universalis IV: Mare Nostrum
    • Europa Universalis IV: Res Publica
    • Crusader Kings II: Charlemagne
    • Crusader Kings II: Legacy of Rome
    • Crusader Kings II: The Old Gods
    • Crusader Kings II: Rajas of India
    Chapter 9.51

    1041 – September - Jorvik


    Ofeig sat in his private dining chamber finishing his midday meal. He saw Sigeberht and Count Yngvar of Lincoln approaching, as he chewed on the last piece of stew-soaked bread. His gaze fell on Yngvar, who had become Stewart in the wake of Þegn Vagn’s death. Ofeig held reservations about Yngvar. After all, Yngvar counted Þegn Vagn as a close friend. Ofeig expressed his concerns to Sigeberht. His uncle did not deny them and only stated Yngvar was the best choice given who was available.

    Ofeig drove those thoughts from his mind. The young man had more pressing matters. He had been avoiding Sigeberht and Yngvar for most of the week. He swallowed his bread and rose hastily and headed for the rear door. To his disappointment the way was blocked. Froði, the Court Chaplin stood there. He smiled and said, “Good to finally see you, Your Grace.”

    “Yes, it has been quite a contest to speak with you.” Ofeig’s heart sank as his uncle’s voice came from behind him.

    Ofeig turned. They had caught him.

    Sigeberht indicated to the table Ofeig just left, “Come sit. There is much to discuss. Do we not?”

    Reluctant Ofeig walked back and took his seat. Yngvar and Froði grabbed seats next to him while Sigeberht remained standing. Ofeig found himself cornered.

    Froði smiled, “You have had the time you requested to think about your choice.”

    Yngvar chuckled, “And two more days.”

    Froði continued, “Have you thought about it?”

    Ofeig put on a fake smile, “Yes, yes I have.”

    Froði clapped, “That is good. So, which lucky lass will be your queen?”

    Ofeig looked around the room like a trapped animal. “Uh, I, uh…”

    Sigeberht laughed, “He cannot even recall his choices?”

    Hurt Ofeig replied, “I can.”

    Sigeberht folded his arms and said, “Then recite them.”

    Ofeig scrambled. He truly did not remember them. He had no wish to marry but one look at his uncle he realized there was no escape, but he would try.

    “Why must I get married.”

    Sigeberht looked at Ofeig, “You are king, and you require a queen. You need a heir on the quick. This kingdom cannot survive another long regency.”

    Still protesting, Ofeig replied, “Why now? I can marry after a year or two of being king on my own.”

    Sigeberht shook his head, “You are yet under the regency and the Council can decide for you.”

    Ofeig said, “When I am king, I terminate any betrothal.”

    Growing weary of Ofeig’s delays Sigeberht leaned into Ofeig, “Do so at your own peril. You will destroy any legitimacy with the other kingdoms of Europe.” Sigeberht stood straight. “You are lucky we are allowing you a say in the matter.”

    Sigeberht relaxed, “Having a good wife can be a great asset. Trust me I speak from experience.”

    Ofeig looked at Sigeberht and smiled. The marriage of Sigeberht and Richenza, their love, and devotion to one another was the stuff of legend. Many whispered their love matched the love of King Sigfrið and Queen Emma, tale which many bards sang.

    Froði broke the magic moment, “Do you remember the choices?”

    Ofeig was not sure he did. After a a minute of struggling, he answered, “There was an Italian.”

    Annoyed Ofeig did not recall her name or get her nationality correct Froði said, “Venetian. Paolo Tribuno, daughter of the late Serene Doge Bartolomeo of Venice.”

    Sigeberht looked at Ofeig, “Who else?”

    Ofeig scratched the back of neck, “I think her name was Ingrid. Her father was the King of Damark.”

    Happier this time, Froði responded, “Yes, Ingrid, daughter of the late King Torgils. Her mother is Birgitta, bastard daughter of King Eilif. She is your first cousin once removed. I foresee no problems since Birgitta is a bastard.”

    Ofeig did not realize the family connection, or perhaps he just forgotten it.

    He knew there was another. He struggled to remember anything about her. After enduring a few moments of Sigeberht’s intense glaring, Ofeig recalled something, “The last one was from Bohemia and her name was Jita.”

    Froði shook his head, “Her name is Jitka Slavnikovci. Her father was the late Duke Herman of Bohemia.”

    Ofeig was proud of himself for remembering. He was shocked back to reality when Sigeberht asked, “Which do you choose?”

    Sweating Ofeig knew he had to choose now. Delaying the decision was no longer practical. He regretted not looking at the information they had given him in more detail. He stalled.

    “I-I don’t know. It is a hard choice. I need more time.”

    Sigeberht glared at him, “You have had two weeks.”

    I did? Ofeig realized he was in deep trouble. He was going to make a life altering decision off the hip.

    Sigeberht shook his head, “We thought since you are almost sixteen, we would allow to choose. I now see that was foolish. Council will choose for you.”

    Ofeig’s mouth felt like it was a desert. He could not let Council decide for him. Now was the time to decide. He could only remember one name, so there must be something special about her.

    “Ingrid of Damark.”

    Oddly Ofeig felt someone had lifted a burden.

    Both Sigeberht, Yngvar, and Froði nodded and smiled.

    Froði responded, “Good choice.”

    Sigeberht said, “We will enter into final negotiations with King Olav of Damark.”

    The counselors left. Ofeig thought, well that is finally over. However, he could not understand why suddenly he felt trapped.
     
    • 1Like
    • 1Love
    Reactions:
    Chapter 9.52 1042 – March – Jorvik
  • tpmcinty

    Lt. General
    65 Badges
    Mar 9, 2009
    1.245
    946
    • Crusader Kings II
    • Victoria 2: A House Divided
    • Rome Gold
    • Heir to the Throne
    • Divine Wind
    • Europa Universalis III Complete
    • Crusader Kings II: Monks and Mystics
    • Europa Universalis IV: Common Sense
    • Crusader Kings II: Horse Lords
    • Cities: Skylines - Parklife
    • Crusader Kings II: Conclave
    • Stellaris: Apocalypse
    • Hearts of Iron IV: Cadet
    • Crusader Kings II: Reapers Due
    • Europa Universalis IV: Rights of Man
    • Cities: Skylines - Natural Disasters
    • Hearts of Iron IV: Together for Victory
    • Europa Universalis IV: El Dorado
    • Stellaris: Humanoids Species Pack
    • Cities: Skylines - Mass Transit
    • Europa Universalis IV: Mandate of Heaven
    • Europa Universalis IV: Third Rome
    • Hearts of Iron IV: Death or Dishonor
    • Stellaris: Synthetic Dawn
    • Cities: Skylines - Green Cities
    • Cities: Skylines - Parklife Pre-Order
    • Europa Universalis IV: Dharma
    • Crusader Kings II: Holy Fury
    • Stellaris: Megacorp
    • Europa Universalis 4: Emperor
    • Crusader Kings III
    • Cities: Skylines - Campus
    • Imperator: Rome
    • Europa Universalis IV: Golden Century
    • Crusader Kings II: Way of Life
    • Europa Universalis III Complete
    • Europa Universalis III Complete
    • Victoria 2
    • 500k Club
    • Europa Universalis IV: Rule Britannia
    • Europa Universalis IV: Pre-order
    • Cities: Skylines - Snowfall
    • Cities: Skylines - After Dark
    • Europa Universalis IV: Mare Nostrum
    • Europa Universalis IV: Res Publica
    • Crusader Kings II: Charlemagne
    • Crusader Kings II: Legacy of Rome
    • Crusader Kings II: The Old Gods
    • Crusader Kings II: Rajas of India
    Chapter 9.52

    1042 – March – Jorvik


    On his sixteenth birthday King Ofeig sat upon his throne. The throne no longer shared the dais with the Regent’s Chair. His uncles flanked the king. On the king’s right stood Prince Sigeberht. On his left, Prince Eilif was situated. The subtle placing announced to all whom Ofeig considered his closest and most trusted advisors.

    At the foot of the dais the remaining council members assumed their places. Padern and Ealhswith positioned to the right. Yngvar and Froði placed on the left. Archbishop Eastmund of St Peters, Mayor Folki of Skardaborg, Jarl Hlothere of Man, and the new Count of Hereford, Snorri were part of the invited guests. In a corner alone stood Rígán. Representing Scotland was Prince Robert, King Gilchrist’s brother.

    Ofeig saw everyone was gathered and in a low voice to Sigeberht he asked, “What is first?”

    Sigeberht leaned over and replied, “The regent business.”

    Ofeig nodded and called out, “Bring Arngrimr forward.”

    Arngrimr walked to the dais and took a knee. Ofeig took his time directing Arngrimr to stand.

    Arngrimr looked at Ofeig, “You summoned me, your highness.”

    Ofeig looked back at Arngrimr, “I did.” Ofeig paused, “Your time as regent is no longer required. You are hereby dismissed from said office and from my presence. However, you may not leave the keep.”

    Confused Arngrimr asked, “Why am I not permitted to leave?”

    Ofeig glared at Arngrimr, “An accounting must be done.”

    Arngrimr replied, “I have done nothing wrong.”

    Ofeig smirked, “That remains to be seen.” Pointing to the rear Ofeig, “Your presence is no longer required here. You are dismissed.”

    Arngrimr started to protest. The hand of a guard on his upper arm convinced him otherwise. Confused and dejected, Arngrimr departed.

    Ofeig looked to see Rígán smiling from ear to ear.

    Ofeig called out, “Lord Rígán.”

    Surprised Rígán hesitated but eventually came forward. At the foot of the dais he took a knee and stood when Ofeig gestured he should.

    Rígán said, “I stand before you as requested, milord.”

    Ofeig smiled, “Lord Rígán I am prepared to grant you the title of Count of Ossory.”

    There were several gasps in the room and some murmuring. Even Rígán was surprised. Something he had long wished for was now within his grasps.

    Rígán shook his head, “I think such an offer is unwise.”

    Surprised Ofeig asked, “Why do you say so?”

    Rígán grinned, “I am old and worn out. I have no wife and no prospects. Who would be my heir? The crown?” Rígán paused and looked at Ofeig, “No being a count is a younger man’s job.”

    Disappointed, Ofeig replied, “I understand.”

    Rígán smiled, “Thank you, Sire.”

    Ofeig nodded, “You may go if you wish.”

    Rígán nodded. He turned to leave the room, but he stopped. Instead, he retreated into the shadowy corner he had been standing.

    It was Sigeberht who spoke next, “Count Snorri of Hereford come forth.”

    Count Snorri came forward. At the foot of dais, the count took a knee and rose when instructed.

    Ofeig looked at Snorri and said, “We are sorry for the death of your mother. The Countess Katarina was a formidable person and will be greatly missed. We will say a prayer for her.”

    Snorri nodded, “I thank you, Sire. My mother was a great woman who gave her life bestowing life to my sister Hafrid.”

    Sigeberht spoke again, “Count Snorri what is your purpose here?”

    Snorri bowed his head, “To swear my fidelity and devotion to my king.”

    Sigeberht nodded, “Then you may do so.”

    Snorri took a knee and bowed his head. As his mother, her father, and a line back to his great grandfather Prince Totil, brother of King Sigfrið he swore his fidelity and loyalty to the King of Jorvik. When he was finished, he looked up at the king.

    Ofeig smiled and said, “Rise Count Snorri of Hereford. I accept your oaths and allegiance.”

    Snorri stood and nodded. He returned to his place with the audience.

    After addressing several minor issues the first court of King Ofeig was adjourned.

    As they were leaving Ofeig spoke with Sigeberht, “I do not understand Rígán. He has desired the County of Ossory for many long years but when offered he refused.”

    Sigeberht looked solemn, “Since his disposition as regent he has become a changed man. He has turned from earthly things and now looks to God.”

    Ofeig nodded, “Then perhaps a bishopric would be more appropriate.”

    Sigeberht agreed, “At the right time it would be.”

    *****

    In the evening, Ealhswith met with Padern in his office. They sipped wine and made small talk. After which Ealhswith spoke the reason for her visit.

    “After court the king requested I undertake an inquiry about what happened to Countess Maud’s and Count Hereweald’s oaths.”

    Padern finished his sip of wine and played with his mustache, “So he asked. Did not take long. He had been king what a few hours? What did you tell him?”

    Ealhswith chuckled, “He is the king. What else I could I tell him but, yes.”

    Padern smiled, “Good, very good.”

    Ealhswith requested, “What should I do?”

    Padern grinned, “You will find them. Of course, not at first. It must look like they were well hidden, and your agents struggled to discover them somewhere in amongst Arngrimr’s possessions.”

    Ealhswith sipped more wine and nodded, “Will Arngrimr not try to reveal the truth? He took them and gave them to you on your orders.”

    Padern smirked, “If he did then why were they found among his belongings? Did he not benefit from their disappearance and become regent? You see in Ofeig’s eyes he is already guilty. Ofeig will only see the found oaths as proof of Arngrimr’s sinister plan.”

    Worried Ealhswith, “What if he blames you?”

    Padern leered, “I have worked very hard for the last year to convince Ofeig and even Sigeberht I had a change of heart and now only want to be a loyal and obedient servant of the king. If Arngrimr accuses me I will call it the desperate rantings of a guilty man trying every way to hide his guilt. Who do you think Ofeig will believe?”

    Ealhswith chuckled, “And here I thought you had grown soft and the change of heart was genuine.”

    Padern chuckled. He took a sip of wine and stared into the goblet. What was in his heart? At one time he thought he knew. After the death of his wife and son days apart he was unsure. He believed his past actions had brought about the terrible wraith of God to punish him with the deaths of his loved ones. He tried to repent through his recent good deeds. However, all would be undone if the truth about the oaths was revealed. He needed to protect the trust he gained with the king at all costs. Surely God would understand.

    *****

    A sense of excitement and anticipation filled the strategy hall for Ofeig’s first strategy session as king in his own right. Ofeig had made some changes even before the meeting occurred. No longer was the strategy hall shared with the library. Ofeig had an unused room converted into his strategy hall. At the moment it was bare bones. A table and some chairs dominated the room. Some banners hung along one wall of the room. A large map of the kingdom was hung on another. Maps were tossed about the table.

    This day Ofeig sat at the head of the table. Sigeberht and Eilif shared seats with the king at table. Padern stood at the table going through maps and papers. His fingers traced the routes taken by the armies over the last seven months.

    After their defeat at Aberffraw the Rebel army tried first to retreat into Gwynedd but found their way block. Turning south they attempted to reach the County of Shrewsbury, but again Fer-Fugaill had maneuvered to prevent them. With no other option open, they retreated north through Chester and Lancaster finally reaching Westmorland.

    In Westmorland near Lowther, Fer-Fugail trapped the Rebels. After a short but decisive battle Fer-Fugaill destroyed half the rebel army and sent the rest fleeing south. Prevented from reaching Wales the rebel army’s only option was to flee to Bedford.

    Once in Bedford their generals created a defensive position near the city. Knowing a siege was coming they needed to allow the city and its garrison time to prepare. When Fer-Fugaill came to Bedford, he found a well-prepared army waiting. Despite be outnumbered twelve thousand to five hundred the Rebels chose to fight. Using the terrain to their advantage the defenders forced Fer-Fugaill to attack them piecemeal. However, in such a battle of attrition Fer-Fugaill knew it was only a matter of time before he won. Victory came when the size of the Rebel losses prevented them from properly defending their positions. Fer-Feguaill’s troops poured into the gaps. This time with nowhere to run the Rebel army was destroyed.

    Not long after the battle it was decided to dismiss the Company of the Rose. With no Rebel army to fight and given the number of Scottish troops present the feeling was the expense of the mercenary company was no longer justified.

    However, the Rebels accomplished their goal. The garrison of Bedford was at full strength. The defenses had been repaired and improved. As the defenders hoped the siege would be a long tough one. The Rebels placed their hopes in the long siege allowing them to rebuild their army. They knew they could not face Fer-Fugaill and the army at full strength, but they could attack and raid areas and create chaos throughout Jorvik.

    To that end a small army was raised in Westmorland with the intention of attacking into the County of Jorvik. The hope was some of the army around Bedford would be dispatched to deal with the Rebel threat. The Rebels hoped to lure this army into a trap and rout it.

    However, just as the Rebel army prepared to launch their assault, a French army landed in Lancaster. Hearing of the Rebel army the French hastily marched into Westmorland. Surprised to find an enemy coming from Lancaster the Rebels were trapped and routed near Lowther.

    “Jarl Padern,” called Ofeig, “we are waiting.”

    Startled Padern looked up from the maps and documents, “Sire?”

    Ofeig looked at Padern, “Do you have anything?”

    Padern nodded and then fumbled with some papers. Finding the one he wanted, he quickly looked over it and replied, “Yes.”

    Growing a little impatient, Ofeig responded, “And you are going to tell us?”

    Padern smiled, “The Rebel army that fled Westmorland after its defeat at the hands of the French were found in Chester. Near the Bishopric of Halton, the French encircled them and destroyed the Rebel army.”

    Ofeig smiled and nodded, “What of the Siege of Bedford?”

    Padern’s face changed from one of joy to one of frustrations. “The siege still goes onward.”

    Slightly annoyed, Ofeig said, “why has the city not fallen? It has been almost six months.”

    Padern took a deep breath, “It is an old city. Long has it sat near the border with England. Past kings have furnished assistance in bolstering the city’s defense against possible attacks from the English. In addition, Jarl Ealdmund has provided funds and craftsmen to continually repair and improve the defenses.”

    Ofeig asked, “How much longer?”

    Padern looked at a piece of parchment and replied, “From Fer-Fugaill’s latest dispatch he feels Bedford will be captured by the mid-summer.”

    Ofeig nodded, “The sooner the better. I tire of this war.”

    Padern nodded in agreement, “We all do.”

    A discussion about supplies for the army arose.

    Padern left the room a short time afterwards leaving Ofeig, Sigeberht, and Eilif. After Padern was gone Ofeig turned to Sigeberht and asked, “Can we trust him?”

    Sigeberht thought for a few moments, “His change of heart appears to be true.”

    Eilif scoffed, “He has only changed so that he can save his own neck. Even in Northumberland we have heard tales of his deeds.”

    Sigeberht glared at Eilif and then turned to Ofeig, “The deaths of his son and wife seem to have a profound effect on him. I think we can trust him.”

    Ofeig nodded, “I feel the same and for our sakes I hope we are right.”

    Ofeig’s page appeared in the doorway. His appearance reminded Ofeig he was late for a meeting. He smiled at his uncles as he stood saying, “Now I must be on my way. I have delayed my meeting with the Archbishop long enough apparently. He has sent my page to fetch me.”

    Both Sigeberht and Eilif stood and bowed as Ofeig left the room.

    As Ofeig disappeared out of the room Eilif said, “You always play the fool.” Eilif sat back in his chair.

    Sigeberht turned and leaned on the table, “You nothing of what you speak.”

    Eilif shook his head, “If I were in your position, I would be king now.”

    Sigeberht glared at his younger brother, “Now who is the fool?”

    Eilif chuckled, “You had the golden opportunity. You are Court Physician. What a perfect position to be in to seize the crown. You could say he died of anything.”

    Sigeberht backed away from Eilif, “Do you hear yourself. Do you think I could kill our nephew, our own flesh and blood?”

    Eilif shrugged his shoulders, “Why not? Others have done it for less.”

    Sigeberht shook his head, “You have no idea of what such an action would have done to the kingdom. Factions would rise and splinter the kingdom. Civil wars would be common. Our enemies would attack us.”

    Eilif chuckled, “We are strong we would have defeated them all.”

    Sigeberht clenched his fist, “I should have never allowed Eadweard to appoint you Jarl of Northumberland.”

    Eilif smiled, “Another bad decision perhaps. Unlike you, however, I would pursue my claims.”

    Sigeberht leaned in close to Eilif, “Are you threatening me?”

    Eilif glared back at Sigeberht, “I have said nothing, but if you feel threatened by my strong claim for the Jarldom of Dyflinn that is not my fault. Fault father from whom it came.”

    Eilif stood up and walked away from his brother. Filled with rage Sigeberht wanted to attack and beat some sense into his brother. Knowing it would not accomplish anything Sigeberht backed down. He needed to find a way to warn Ofeig about Eilif before his brother became a problem for the king and the kingdom.
     
    • 1Like
    • 1Love
    Reactions:
    Chapter 9.53 1042 – April – Jorvik
  • tpmcinty

    Lt. General
    65 Badges
    Mar 9, 2009
    1.245
    946
    • Crusader Kings II
    • Victoria 2: A House Divided
    • Rome Gold
    • Heir to the Throne
    • Divine Wind
    • Europa Universalis III Complete
    • Crusader Kings II: Monks and Mystics
    • Europa Universalis IV: Common Sense
    • Crusader Kings II: Horse Lords
    • Cities: Skylines - Parklife
    • Crusader Kings II: Conclave
    • Stellaris: Apocalypse
    • Hearts of Iron IV: Cadet
    • Crusader Kings II: Reapers Due
    • Europa Universalis IV: Rights of Man
    • Cities: Skylines - Natural Disasters
    • Hearts of Iron IV: Together for Victory
    • Europa Universalis IV: El Dorado
    • Stellaris: Humanoids Species Pack
    • Cities: Skylines - Mass Transit
    • Europa Universalis IV: Mandate of Heaven
    • Europa Universalis IV: Third Rome
    • Hearts of Iron IV: Death or Dishonor
    • Stellaris: Synthetic Dawn
    • Cities: Skylines - Green Cities
    • Cities: Skylines - Parklife Pre-Order
    • Europa Universalis IV: Dharma
    • Crusader Kings II: Holy Fury
    • Stellaris: Megacorp
    • Europa Universalis 4: Emperor
    • Crusader Kings III
    • Cities: Skylines - Campus
    • Imperator: Rome
    • Europa Universalis IV: Golden Century
    • Crusader Kings II: Way of Life
    • Europa Universalis III Complete
    • Europa Universalis III Complete
    • Victoria 2
    • 500k Club
    • Europa Universalis IV: Rule Britannia
    • Europa Universalis IV: Pre-order
    • Cities: Skylines - Snowfall
    • Cities: Skylines - After Dark
    • Europa Universalis IV: Mare Nostrum
    • Europa Universalis IV: Res Publica
    • Crusader Kings II: Charlemagne
    • Crusader Kings II: Legacy of Rome
    • Crusader Kings II: The Old Gods
    • Crusader Kings II: Rajas of India
    Chapter 9.53

    1042 – April – Jorvik


    The Great Hall was filled with onlookers this day for the first public court of King Ofeig. Many had come from far and wide to see the boy king who was now king in his own right. Many had not expected him to survive to this day.

    The Crier pounded his staff on the floor bring the hall to a quiet. Once he was satisfied, he exclaimed, “All hail King Ofeig of Jorvik.”

    The procession began from the back of the hall. First to enter were the heralds. The first two carried the banners of the Kingdom of Jorvik, and the House of Hvitserk. The following heralds each bore the banner of each title Ofeig held. First were the jarldoms; Jorvik, Lancaster, Mercia, Hwicce, and Dyflinn. Next came the counties; Jorvik, Dunholm, Lancaster, Chester, Djuraby, Worcester, Warwick, Gloucester, and Ossory. Last was the Barony of Richmond. The heralds proceeded to the dais placing their banners behind and along the top and side of dais. The banners of the King of Jorvik and House of Hvitserk were placed behind the throne.

    Behind the banners came the Council. Sigeberht and Padern were in the first row. They were followed by Yngvar and Ealhswith, and then Froði and Eilif. At the dais they took up their positions. Once the Council members were in their places King Ofeig entered. He wore a simple royal robe and worn a plain crown. He carried his own sword. Since the coronation ceremony had not been conducted, he did not carry the state sword or wear the formal crown.

    As he entered the audience took to one knee and bowed. Ofeig walked slowly and steadily to the throne. He knew this a formal court and a certain image was expected. He had to maintain a slower pace than he normally walked. At the dais he ascended the steps. He turned and stood for a moment looking out over the audience. He sat slowly onto the throne. Once he was seated the audience stood.

    After a moment or two of silence Ofeig spoke, “Archbishop Eastmund.”

    Eastmund stepped out from his place in the front of audience. He raised his arms to God and began to pray. He prayed for God to bless the king and guide him. At the conclusion he lowered his arms and returned to his place.

    The first to approach the king was Chief Andrew of Dunollie, the Scottish representative to Jorvik. Andrew bowed at the foot of dais.

    Ofeig said, “Chief Andrew is good to see you.”

    Andrew smiled, “Thank you, Your Highness. I bring congratulations and wishes for a long and prosper reign from King Gilchrist.”

    Ofeig smiled, “I thank King Gilchrist. I also wish to convey my gratitude to him for aiding us in our current war with the traitors lead by Westmorland.”

    Next came the French representative, followed by the representatives from Aquitaine, Connachta, Cornwall, and Damark. All wished Ofeig well from their sovereigns.

    Once the greeting of the representatives was done Sigeberht and Yngvar stepped up to the throne and took positions on each side of the throne.

    Sigeberht unrolled a scroll he held. He looked at the scroll and called out, “Prince Eilif, Jarl of Northumberland, and Aflgeir Öysteinnsson Jute. Eilif and the fourteen-year-old Aflgeir stepped to the bottom of the dais.

    Ofeig said, “Aflgeir Öysteinnsson Jute in recognition for the service your father the Lord General Öysteinnsson Sumarliðisson Jute gave to the kingdom and the love that was bore for him I hereby grant you the title of Count of Dunholm. Do you accept?”

    Aflgeir’s face lit up. He had not been expecting anything like this. He nodded and replied, “Yes, Sire.”

    Ofeig looked at Eilif and said, “Prince Eilif since Dunholm is a de jure county of the Jarldom of Northumberland I hereby transfer the vassalage of Count Alfgeir of Dunholm to you. Do you accept?”

    Eilif nodded, “I accept.”

    Ofeig nodded to Yngvar. The Stewart gave Eilif and Alfgeir each a scroll. Eilif and Alfgeir bowed and returned to their places.

    Sigeberht handed the scroll he held to Yngvar. Yngvar then called out “Prince Sigeberht and Alfr af Warwick.”

    Prince Sigeberht descend from the dais and took a place at the foot. Twelve-year-old Alfr walked nervously to dais. Once there they both bowed.

    Ofeig looked at Alfr and smiled, “Alfr af Warwick, I once told you when the time came, I would reward you for your friendship and kindness and to give you what had been denied to you. I hereby grant you the title of Count of Ossory. Do you accept?”

    Alfr could not believe what had just happened to him. Years of being bullied and demeaned by his brothers because he was a bastard were suddenly pushed aside. He now had something they did not. “Yes, Sire, I accept.”

    Ofeig nodded and then looked at Sigeberht.

    “Prince Sigeberht, for all your aid and assistance you have given me I hereby grant you the title of Jarl of Dyflinn. Do you accept?”

    Sigeberht stood tall and replied, “Yes, Sire, I accept.”

    Ofeig continued, “I also hereby transfer the vassalage of Count Alfr of Ossory to Prince Sigeberht, Jarl of Dyflinn. Do you accept.”

    Sigeberht nodded, “I accept.”

    Sigeberht and Alfr were handed scrolls by Yngvar. They bowed and returned to their places.

    Next came the swearing of the fidelity oaths by all of King Ofeig’s vassals that were present this day. First to swear their oaths were the jarls. They were followed by the counts, and lastly by the barons. The swearing of the oaths took a couple of hours.

    Once the oaths were completed the king heard several petitions from his subjects. Hearing the petitions took another hour and a half. At this point Ofeig was on the verge of collapse. Seeing this Sigeberht motioned for the court session to be brought to a close which it was.

    A tired and hungry Ofeig left the Great Hall quicker than he had entered. The first court of King Ofeig had now concluded.

    *****

    Ofeig stood nervously in the solar waiting. As he waited, he was tempted to quench his dry mouth and throat with the wine on the table next to him. His watched the doorway in anticipation and fear for his guest. It had been nearly seven years since he had seen his mother. He tried to image what she looked like and wondered what she would think of him.

    A moment later Sarrazine, once Queen Mother of Jorvik, now Queen of Damark appeared in the doorway. She bore a smile from ear to ear as he crossed the distance between her and her son. When she was close enough, she extended her arms and the two embraced. They stood holding one another for a good long time.

    Finally, they broke their embrace and stepped back away from each other. Sarrazine kept her hands on Ofeig’s upper arms at the shoulders and said, “Let me take a look at you.”

    Her eyes moved over his body and returned to his face. She let his go and said, “Look at how big you have grown and now you are king in your own right.”

    Ofeig smiled and blushed and could only manage to say, “Yes.”

    Sarrazine smiled and continued, “What has happened to Rígán?”

    Ofeig replied, “He is here at court. He is a changed man since being removed as regent. He is no longer the arrogant and demanding person. Now is more withdrawn into a life of prayer and solitude.”

    Sarrazine nodded, “I have forgiven him many years ago. King Olav has proven to be a good husband and king. My only regret is I have not yet born him a son.”

    Ofeig asked, “Where is King Olav?”

    Sarrazine frowned, “He is fighting the Lotharingians in Baden.”

    Ofeig replied, “I see.”

    Sarrazine said, “You are not with your soldiers.”

    Ofeig replied, “I will be leaving for Bedford a few days after the wedding.”

    Sarrazine seemed far away for a moment, “I was deeply saddened to learn Jarl Ealdmund of Powys had joined with the Rebels. He once was one of the greatest and most trusted men in the kingdom. Your father and grandfather relied on him.”

    Ofeig frowned as he remembered the stories his mother told of the days of King Rædwald. Many of them had Ealdmund as one of the heroes.

    “He is now a bitter man full of rage and burning hatred. His one purpose now is vengeance against the Council and me.”

    Sarrazine could only shake her head, her heart full of sadness for an old friend. Ofeig and his mother discussed many topics over the next hour. When they were done, they hugged one another. As Ofeig watched Sarrazine leave he realized he no longer knew her. They had grown far apart, and they would never be close again.

    *****

    Ofeig sat in the solar with his closest friends Bertil Kolbjörnsson Lade and his brother Vagn. The two brothers were the closest teenagers to Ofeig in age. Since arriving at court, a little over three years ago the three had become somewhat inseparable. Ofeig knew Bertil and Vagn had fled their homeland of Hålogaland in the Kingdom of Norway with their mother Karin Skulisdottir. They left after their father Kolbjörn Bertilsson died in the dungeons of King Þorgil of Norðreyjar. Kolbjörn Bertilsson was on a mission to Norðreyjar for their grandfather the Chief of Hålogaland and since the mission failed their father’s lands were seized. Fearing for her safety and her children’s Karin fled to Jorvik. She was granddaughter of the great Marshal of Jorvik Count Þorgil of Gwent and the granddaughter of Count Ragnarr the Seducer of Westmorland. Given her pedigree she was granted asylum in the court at Jorvik.

    Bertil handed Ofeig another ale. Ofeig took the ale and drank about half of it in one swallow. Laughing Berit said, “Be careful you are to be married tomorrow. You don’t want to throw up on your new bride or worse yet the Archbishop’s shoes.”

    Ofeig laughed, “If I did it would make for quite a tale.”

    Vagn, Bertil’s younger brother laughed, “I can image the look on the faces of the Council.”

    After the laughter had subsided Bertil asked, “Have you seen your bride?”

    Ofeig wiped some froth from his beard, “Only from afar. I caught a glimpse when she arrived. My mother has been very insistent I do not see her before the wedding.”

    Vagn leaned over, “Is that because she is ugly with a face that would curdle fresh milk?”

    The three men burst into laughter. With some concern on his face Ofeig said, “I hope not.”

    Bertil smiled, “I am sure she is beautiful. Your Uncle Sigeberht would not give you an ugly wife.”

    Ofeig looked at his friends and said, “Three days after the wedding we three leave for the siege lines around Bedford.” Ofeig took a drink. “I have never been in battle.”

    Bertil became very serious. Both he and Vagn had been with Fer-Fugaill and the army. He had witnessed the Battle of Lowther but did participate. The knight he was a squire for had taken a fall from a horse a few days before breaking his leg and unable to fight. Bertil along with Vagn was left with the troops guarding the baggage train.

    “It is loud. That is the thing I remember most.”

    He looked at Vagn. After the battle they had walked through the carnage left on the field aiding the wounded. At first Bertil felt he was going to be sick but after a time he became numb and performed his duties. Vagn on the other hand, was ghostly white through the experience. By the end of the day he was shaken and distant.

    Ofeig laughed, “What is there to worry about it is a siege and according to Fer-Fugaill it will be over soon.”

    Bertil and Vagn nodded but did not speak. Each was battling their own memories of war.

    Just then Sigeberht entered the room and announced, “You all need your rest. It will be a long day tomorrow.”

    Ofeig nodded. The three men rose and left. Each heading to their chambers to catch some sleep.

    The morning came quickly. To Ofeig’s horror Sigeberht knocked on this bedroom door exceedingly hard. The knocks echoed in Ofeig’s head. Sigeberht stood and chuckled at Ofeig knowing the king was suffering the effects from his last night as a bachelor.

    Once he was dressed and ready Ofeig was taken to the Cathedral of St Jourdain. There he was escorted to the place he would wait for his bride. Much to Ofeig’s annoyance Archbishop Eastmund was waiting in the same area. Eastmund took advantage of the time and proceeded to lecture Ofeig on how to be a good husband. Sigeberht would occasionally check with Ofeig to see how he was holding up.

    After what seemed to be an eternity Ofeig was led to the altar of the cathedral. He was stunned at the display before him in the cathedral. Here was the lords and ladies of the Kingdom of Jorvik dressed in their finest and packed into the cathedral. A large contingent from Damark lead by his mother was in the forefront. Sigeberht with his wife Richenza, and Prince Eilif along with his new wife Princess Sigrid of Norway were in the front on the opposite aisle. Ofeig was told that representatives from Scotland, France, Aquitaine, Connachta, Cornwall, Norway, Germany, and Burgundy were present. To his surprise there were several form Galicia.

    A few moments after Ofeig arrived at the altar his bride entered from the back of the church. Since Ingrid’s father King Torgils of Damark was dead she was escorted by Þorgil Alfrsson, heir to the throne of Damark. At the foot of the altar Ingrid stopped and her veil was pulled back. To Ofeig’s relief she was pretty in the face and body.

    For the next hour of so Ofeig and Ingrid endured the ceremony of matrimony. Eastmund seemed to be in his glory conducting the wedding and made a point to elongate the ceremony. When the ceremony was mercifully complete and the bride and groom kissed, they were escorted out of the cathedral. Following the tradition of the House of Hvitserk the king with his new queen walked from the cathedral to the palace. Along the way they gave coins to the people who lined the boulevard connecting the cathedral and the palace.

    Once they arrived at the palace, they were taken to their individual chambers to change for the wedding feast.

    *****

    The feast went on for hours. Much of it was a blur to the royal couple. There was food and entertainment with plenty of drink. A constant flow of well-wishers. Many of them Ofeig could not recall. However, there a few that stuck out in Ofeig’s mind.

    First among these was Ingrid’s mother Birgitta Eilifsdottir. She was the daughter of King Eilif and the Lady Ingrid af Chester, one of Eilif’s lovers. Given how Lady Ingrid had been treated by King Rædwald Ofeig was surprised Birgitta attended the wedding.

    Ingrid led Birgitta to Ofeig and introduced them. Smiling Ofeig said, “It is a pleasure to meet you Queen Birgitta and an honor to have you here.”

    Birgitta blushed some as she replied, “I am no longer queen since my husband’s death.”

    Ofeig continued to smile, “Here in Jorvik, once a queen always a queen.”

    Birgitta looked around the hall and said, “It is many years since I have walked these corridors and stood in these rooms. Much has changed and yet so much remains the same.”

    Ofeig nodded, “Ingrid informed me your mother the Lady Ingrid af Chester died. Through our ignorance here we did not know. I would like to pass my deepest sympathies to you. I will say a prayer for her at the mass on Sunday.”

    Birgitta looked at Ofeig trying to size him up, “I thank you, Sire.”

    She smiled and looked at her daughter and said, “Your grandmother would be proud. There is finally an Ingrid on the throne of Jorvik.”

    Ofeig said, “It is good we have united our families and brought those who were wronged back home.” He looked at Birgitta and offered, “You are welcome to stay here.”

    Birgitta took Ofeig’s hand and patted it, “I thank you for the offer, but I shall return to Sjælland. In Ringsted is where my husband and mother are buried. When it is my time, I will join them.”

    Ofeig wished Birgitta well and returned to his other guests.

    Sometime later Ofeig met with the most surprising guests. After many years of war and suspicion brought on by their alliance with England the representatives from the Kingdom of Galicia were unexpected.

    Ofeig and Ingrid were introduced to Count Nuno of Santigo and his wife Ermengadis. Nuno was the Chancellor for King Diogo III of Galicia.

    After exchanging greetings Nuno said, “Your aunt the Princess Wulfwaru sends her blessings and congratulations to you and your wife, Sire.”

    Ofeig nodded, “Please tell my aunt we are greatly honored.”

    Nuno smiled, “My wife and I would also like to offer our blessing and congratulations.”

    Ofeig smiled, “I thank you.”

    Nuno grinned, “It is a shame our two kingdoms have been on the opposite sides of disagreements for so many years. We had previously been led astray in our alliance with King Ælfgar of England. We received very few benefits from our years of cooperation with England. Their help shall we say was underwhelming while their demands were overwhelming.”

    Ofeig nodded, “So I have been told.”

    Nuno nodded himself and continued, “At the urging of the Princess Wulfwaru we have reexamined who is truly our friend and who is not. In time I believe our two kingdoms can find in their hearts to forgive one another and perhaps be close friends.”

    Ofeig smiled, “It is something to think about and wish for. You are always welcome to discuss it with us at any time.”

    Ofeig then inquired about the health of Wulfwaru and found she was doing well. She had birthed three children. After some more small talk Nuno and his wife excused themselves.

    After they were gone Ingrid turned to Ofeig and said, “That seemed strange. I have been taught Jorvik and Galicia have not gotten along for many years.”

    Ofeig looked at Ingrid impressed by her knowledge. Someone had done a good job preparing her.

    “You are right, and I do not fully trust them. Their current queen, Anna, is the daughter of Countess Maria of Hereford. The Countess who lead the revolt against King Rædwald. Long has she preached about how she and her family were wronged by Rædwald.”

    Ingrid replied, “I see.”

    Ofeig continued, “My aunt was married to Anna and Diogo’s second son Ingemar in hopes a solution to our differences could be found.”

    Ingrid smiled, “Perhaps based on today one can be found.”

    Ofeig frowned some, “Perhaps, but there is another problem.”

    Curious Ingrid asked, “What is it?”

    Ofeig sighed, “Ingólfr, their first son, and heir is currently in the Jarldom of Powys. He is Court Chaplin to Jarl Ealdmund.”

    Surprised Ingrid said, “The Jarl Ealdmund who is rebelling against you?’

    Ofeig nodded, “Yes, the very one.”

    Ingrid frowned, “I can see how that is a problem.”

    The night and the festivities went on forever in the minds of newlyweds. Finally, Sigeberht announced the King and Queen would be retiring for the evening. Ofeig and Ingrid stood and thanked their guests. With the enthusiasm of youth, the royal couple departed the hall.
     
    • 1Like
    • 1Love
    Reactions: