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Author Topic: War of Three Kings - Prologue  (Read 2372 times)

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Offline drakensis

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War of Three Kings - Prologue
« on: November 23, 2014, 01:13:02 pm »
Prologue

Then they brought out the king’s son, and put upon him the crown and gave him the testimony, and made him king. And Jehoiada and his sons anointed him, and said, God save the king.
2 Chronicles 23:11

It was the ancient custom of the House of Furstán that Kings were made upon the first day of the year. No snow lay upon Beldour as the great state coach was drawn by six white horses from the palace to the quay but a cold northerly wind tugged at cloaks and hats, making many glad of thick woollen garments.

Oft times such ceremony must be one of mixed feelings: the ascension of an heir meaning the passing of a beloved predecessor. Today no such grief was called for. Merely looking forward allowed the new king to see a head of white hair above cloth of gold marking his father’s presence as part of the Moving Ward.

This ward, a sphere of silvery light, offered protection to the new king against the malign. It also, the man hanging from the right step of the carriage – clad in a blazing red to symbolize the Archangel Michaél – mused, marked the support due such a king. Only the highest of Deryni could maintain the complex spell and by custom it was the nobility that bore the task of serving as the symbolic Pillars of the Realm. No king could be crowned without the support of at least four men gifted with power both temporal and sorcerous.

The carriage – only part of the great cavalcade, for few of mark within the Kingdom of Torenth would wish not to be seen as part of the day’s events – came to a halt at the quay and the four men around the king dismounted. The red-clad man opened the door to reveal a man clad in white: the incipient king, bareheaded but his golden hair already turned into a crown of light by the wards around him.

Cheers went up from the people of the city as they laid eyes upon him for the prince was popular and much honoured already, well known for valour in the north of Torenth and for charity at home. Less fortunate kingdoms might shun the Deryni, decrying the ancient race of sorcerers as damned to perdition but the Torenthi were wiser and took pride in the enlightenment of their sovereigns.

The continuity of this rule was in evidence now as the new king walked with stately confidence towards the barge that would carry him north to Torenthály – once private estate to the founder of the kingdom but now home instead to their most sacred rituals - and the Hagia Iób. He walked upon a fine carpet and upon flower petals scattered before him by children, accompanied by hymns of joy.

To maintain the Moving Wards, the four Pillars of the Realm walked in formation around him. The royal princes who flanked him were his cousins, his white haired father leading the way and behind him, in the blue that marked both the element of water and the archangel Gabriél, his son displayed accomplishment that would have been rare in men twice his age.

The king settled himself upon a throne-like chair on the royal caïque, below a canopy far more practical than it might appear at first glance for inclement weather was hardly unknown at this time of year. Around him settled the four Pillars, each provided with a stool.

This respite was a welcome one to the four men as the wards must be maintained even now. As the riverboat was rowed upstream, the prince in green used the relative privacy of the caïque to exchange a smile with his brother in red. The eyes of the king and his son were on the gold-clad father and grandfather who had led the way. The Moving Ward was not only complex but also a burden upon the stamina of those supporting it. The older man had never been weak, but nor was he as hale as he once had been.

His shoulders remained squared however and from the more distanced perspective of his position to the side, the red prince thought his face expressed neither fatigue at the effort nor regret at the passing of power to the next generation but instead only serenity.

All too slowly the caïque made its way up the river until at last it settled against the destination quay. The slow pace of the boat was not only to preserve the dignity of the occasion but also to allow those gathered in Beldour to overtake them on more hastily rowed boats and reach their required stations at the Hagia Iób.

A white horse awaited the new king, held by the sons of dukes. Though restive due to the noise of the crowd gathered for this most holy of spectacles, the steed calmed once immediately the Wards encompassed it. No mounting block was provided for this too was part of the ceremony and yet another ducal son stepped forwards before abasing himself on the cobbles to serve in the role.

The King’s brother, son of a father who at least retained a hereditary duchy and himself duke in his own name, bore the King’s foot without complaint and for his part the elder sibling mounted swiftly, turning to bestow a fond smile as his brother stood once more and moved back to join those who would follow the King to his anointing.

Gathering up the golden reins, the King nudged the horse into a slow walk towards the great church that awaited him, careful not to outpace the four lords around him. Around the edges of the ward, more lords assembled, eight of them robed in purple. Bells attached to the hems of their robes and tall black hats chimed in accompaniment to the King’s approach and in their hands golden frames carried more bells to mark the rising flow of energy.

Abraam, Patriarch of Beldour, stood before the gates of the church, flanked by the full Synod of Torenth. All twelve Metropolitans wore golden vestments and tall mitres, nothing but their finest being fitted to this occasion.

Here once again the procession halted, as once dismounted the King received the kiss of peace from Abraam and reverence in turn from each of the Metropolitans. Pages moved discreetly to replace the boots of King and Pillars with soft felt slippers suitable to the church floors within. Hagia Iób’s great doors welcomed the greatest names in the Kingdom as these preparations were made and once all was deemed in readiness, the great bell that men called Iób’s Complaint tolled thrice to herald the coming of the King.

Marching in pairs, each swinging a censer, the Metropolitans preceded the King into the church. Patriarch Abraam took his own place behind the Moving Ward, his voice taking up the introit of the killijálay, the making of a king.

“Glory be to Thee, Who hast shown forth the light, glory be to God on high, and on earth peace, good will toward men…”

The hymn was carried onwards in rich harmony by the choir within, voices rising along with the incense as the procession marched along the vestibule towards the great dome of the church. Their route was marked by the banners of demesnes from all across the kingdom that as to receive its new monarch and as the last Metropolitan passed each banner was lowered in submission that the King might tread upon their silken folds.

As the procession spread out to encompass the great tomb that lay below the heights of the dome the four Pillars similarly spread out, the Wards now encompassing not only King-to-be but also the tomb of his great ancestor. Furstán Torenthály lay here, waiting for his kingly descendants as he had for almost half a millennium, the stone of the tomb now draped in royal purple.

The king turned and by his will the great silvery dome of the Moving Ward reshaped itself to a line of shimmering light across the tiled floor of the Hagia Iób, admitting another for the first time since they had left the great palace in Beldour.

The Patriarch stepped across the line fearless of the dire consequences had any error been made in its lowering. In his hands he bore a girdle of gold, bejewelled in rubies and he raised this upon high as the chorus of monks sang alleluias before, with great respect, laying down his burden at the foot of the tomb.

“Marek ho Phourstanos-Phestili, thou hast come before your great ancestor Phourstanos to render homage and to be girded with the sword and anointed king. Hast thou made yourself in ready in all things to take up your inheritance?”

“With God’s help I have.”

Abraam bowed deeply to Marek. “Then it is mete you should take up now the girdle of thy rank and station.”

The choir raised their voices in a new hymn as the King prostrated himself before the tomb. Only when their voices fell silent did he left the girdle and wrap it around his waist, a glittering ornament to his white tunic and hose. The patriarch stepped forwards and assisted him in securing the girdle.

“Now bring forth the Sword of Furstán, that his servant may take up his inheritance in the service of his people.”

Iób’s Complaint tolled once and the great doors swung open by command. Through them marched six burly guards, together carrying the great scimitar upon a cushion of purple. The scabbard, inlaid with turquoise and lapis lazuli, studded with precious stones, was itself worth a king’s ransom. The six men lifted the cushion above the tomb and then, careful not to lay hands upon the sword itself they removed the scabbard and retreated beyond the ward.

Silent until now, Kyprian II Könyves Káspár Kirill Furstán, King of Torenth, descended from his golden throne beyond the tomb. Nearly as old as Marek’s father he remained powerfully built, only the slightest hints of silver in his hair.

Abraam bowed his head before his king. “Now in truth, begins the heart of killijálay. Now shall the servant of God, Marek ho Phourstanos–Phestili, take up his inheritance. Let us give honour to the Four Holy Ones as we invoke their protection!”

The prince in red – Arkady, firstborn son of King Kyprian – could feel Marek taking hold of the strands of power offered to him by the four Pillars of the Realm, beginning the transition to build of them a stronger ward yet.

“I call upon the Holy Michaél,” the Patriarch declared and Arkady gasped as warm hands seemed to take his in silent but potent support. “May he stand with us in joy and gladness at this killijálay, to sanctify his servant Marek ho Phourstanos–Phestili.”

Saving only the intake of his brother Nikola when the Patriarch invoked Holy Ouriél, Arkady grasped little further of the invocations, overwhelmed by the four towering Presences he felt hovering over them.

His father reached out and with both hands lifted the scimitar from the tomb, invoking the mighty legacy. He kissed the blade and then waited as Abraam touched Marek heart, brow and tongue with the sacred oils.

With this completed, Marek prostrated himself before Kyprian. “Deathless Phourstanos,” he appealed. “Your servant and son seeks your blessing.”

Kyprian dropped to one knee and touched the younger King upon the crown of his head. “I speak now as once did Our Lord. Here is my servant, whom I uphold, my chosen one in whom I delight; I will put my Spirit on him, and he will bring justice to the nations.”

Marek raised himself to one knee and as he did so, Kyprian stood and held the Sword of Furstán level with Marek’s face. With great reverence the newly anointed king placed his hands between his overlord’s upon the sword and then pressed his lips to the steel.

“I, Marek Malachy Moyslav Furstán-Festil, son of Imre of Tolan and of your sister Torvalla, am your liege man of life and limb and enter your fealty, doing homage for all the lands of Gwynedd, of which I am lawful heir by right of my father. Faith and truth will I bear unto you, to live and to die against all foes. This is my pledge, so help me God.”

Arkady had been Truth-Reading Marek as he spoke, knowing that so too would all Deryni gathered here for the killijálay, including his own father.

Feeling no prevarication Kyprian answered formally, “This do I hear, Marek of Gwynedd. And I, in my part, pledge the protection of Torenth to you and to the cause of your suffering people, to defend you from every creature in my power, giving loyalty for loyalty and justice for honour. Thus say I, Kyprian Könyves Káspár Kirill Furstán, King of Torenth and Overlord of Gwynedd.”

Solemnly he lifted the heavy blade away and restored it to the purple cushion before taking his nephew’s hand and raising him to stand beside him. “Together with our noble ally Prince Jolyon we will rid Gwynedd of the usurping Haldanes and may God defend the right!”

.o0o.

“Whew.” Nikola shook his head as he and Arkady crossed the River Beldour again, this time in a more discreet barge rowed by his own Arkadian retainers. “I’ve done workings before but I can’t say I expected this to be so…”

Arkady nodded, gathering his red mantle around himself against the cold wind. Even with the sun high in the sky it wasn’t what anyone would call warm. They were fortunate it hadn’t snowed. “It’s not as if Kings are crowned every day.”

“I’ll settle for once more in my lifetime if that’s alright with you.” His brother grinned and touched his shoulder. “I think I can manage it for your coronation when it comes.”

“Do you think I’d want anyone else at my side then? Of course, if father outlives me…”

Nikola shrugged. “We’ve survived fighting the Northmen, how bad can Gwynedd be?”

Looking ahead to Beldour, with the spires of Saint Constantine’s rising above the city, Arkady shook his head. “Don’t say that around father. It’s easy enough to install Marek in a throne at the cathedral here in Beldour. Trying to do the same for his grandfather at Valoret cost our House heavily forty years ago.”

The younger prince leant back against the cushions of his chair. “You’re not usually this melancholy. Do you have a premonition?”

“No, but we’ve both seen what can go wrong when someone lets their optimism get ahead of them and father isn’t above doing that.”

“Roslów was a long time ago.” Nikola turned to the other gentleman aboard the barge. “Please speak freely, Sir Blaine, do you feel my noble brother is right or is age beginning to catch up with him prematurely?”

The young knight considered the question seriously. “I think my prince Arkady is right to be aware that in war even a victory is unlikely to be without loss, but I do not believe he speaks the against the venture as such, merely to wish every reasonable action be taken to ensure its success. After all, his beloved brother’s betrothal rests upon it, does it not?”

“Well spoken, sir!” Nikola leant forwards. “Ah, Arkady, you’ve spoken to me often of the joy your own marriage has brought you – surely you’re pleased that I’ll have the chance of experiencing the same myself now?”

“Of course, I’m pleased; and not only because you could hardly have married better. The heiress of a Sovereign Prince, no less? I assure you I’m looking forward to your marriage far more than I do to any eventual coronation of my own.”

“I’d drink to that if I’d brought any wine.”

“Please permit me.” Blaine produced a flask from within the folds of his cloak. “I like to be prepared for contingencies.”

Nikola’s eyes brightened but he passed the flask up to his brother first.

“Fiannan wine!” Arkady exclaimed after sampling the contents. “Good knight, if you’re looking for a patron in the court you’re well-armed for the matter.”

Blaine smiled. “I’ve the honour to serve my cousin, Count Donan, Sire. But the friendship of princes is always a blessing upon a minor knight.”

“Not so minor a knight, I think. If I recall rightly – and I always do –“ Nikola paused to return the flask to its owner. “You were among the party sent to Laas to negotiate the marriages of the fair Quinnell demoiselles!”

“Your Highness’ recollection is not at fault.”

“Oh come, Nikola. Haven’t you heard enough paeans to the beauty of your bride and her twin sister? Everyone in Beldour’s been congratulating you and Prince Adolphus on the matches for weeks now.”

“Wasn’t you who told me that no praise for your beloved was too much?” the younger man said. “But it’s another question – one to put your mind more at ease – which I have in mind.”

“I am at your service, Your Highness.”

“Tell me of Meara, Sir Blaine. They are our allies in this matter so surely their strength of arms is a suitably dour topic.”

Blaine arched one eyebrow towards Arkady. “If it would not be deemed impertinent of me?”

“Pertinent to the moment, I would say. I take no offense, sir Knight. For that matter, had one of my own knights recently had cause to visit Gwynedd I would ask the same of them. Knowledge of a foe is treasure above gold when it comes to matters of war.”

There was a moment of quiet as Blaine ordered his thoughts, broken only by the sound of the oars in the river water. “Meara is not so rich a land as Torenth, my lords. This may seem evident for the principality was far smaller a realm even before Cassan broke away many centuries ago due to a schism within the House of Quinnell, but it goes beyond this.”

“Torenth has prospered greatly by virtue of the rich river lands of the Fertile Crescent and it is my understanding that Gwynedd is similarly well watered. Meara, for its part, has no such great rivers, which hinders both communication within the land and also the efforts to farm them. Those lands I’ve seen are hilly and much buffeted by salty winds off the Atalantic to the west.”

“This may seem to make them a weak reed to ally with but this is not the case. The Great Lords of Meara may lack for material wealth but for this reason they compete endlessly against each other for every inch of land that they can farm.”

“Then they don’t lack for fighting men, at least.”

“I didn’t ride to the North in your royal father’s wars, Your Highness, but my understanding is that the Northmen raise forces not as levies to their feudal overlords but as the able men of a clan banding together against outsiders. If so then you would find Meara’s clans most familiar to you.”

The two brothers exchanged looks. “So formidable in small bands but it would take a strong lord to bring them together under any discipline but their own, would you say?”

“Well put,” conceded Blaine freely. “And since your next question is obvious, shall I speak to you next of Prince Jolyon?”

“I’d be glad to hear your opinion of my future father-in-law.” Nikola leant forwards intently. “In all the discussion of Princess Roisian’s beauty and the prospects she brings her suitor, I know distressingly little about her father.”

“As to that, my lord, I’ll need to delve a little into his history. Prince Jolyon was, like you, a younger son. His father, Prince Joel, died young and thus Meara was subject to a regency council for his early life – one reason Meara was unwilling to take sides between Haldane and Festil forty years ago. The Princes of Meara have claimed for a hundred years now that Cassan’s annexation to Gwynedd was unlawful as prior agreements had declared that if one branch of the Quinnell’s lacked a male heir then the other branch could re-unite both halves of Old Meara.”

“Their loss was the Haldane’s gain.”

“Precisely.” Blaine glanced at the shore. “Under a strong king and barring any serious outside threat, Gwynedd has a long history of expanding where it can. That was as true under House Festil as it was under House Haldane. Cluim Haldane’s decision to strip Corwyn of its autonomous status forty years ago was right about when Jolyon and his brother came of age. They were naturally concerned the next step could be predation on Gwynedd’s sovereign neighbours like themselves.”

Arkady sighed. “A little before my time but I recall as a boy meeting Deryni who’d had to flee the Church of Gwynedd when that happened. It’d been one of the few refuges for our kind west of the Rheljans.”

“My own parents among them, Your Highness.” Blaine sighed. “That simply gave more credence to the idea of course. Such aggression could have been masked under claims of a ‘holy crusade’ to cleanse Meara and other kingdoms of the Deryni families that fled there during the Great Persecutions a hundred years ago. We know now the Haldane’s only goal was to secure his border with Torenth but it looked very different then.”

“Meara’s a fractious land and the only hope of holding off the Haldanes would require more unity than its Princes have ever been able to compel so Judhael and then Jolyon had to use diplomacy to try to build up a web of alliances with their Earls and Barons one that could keep their internecine feuds from brewing over.”

Nikola sighed under his breath. “You’re not painting a very promising picture of the lands I’m looking to someday rule over.”

“You did ask, Your Highness.”

“I did, you’re right. Would you be offended if I asked also that you soften the blow with some more of that Fianna wine?”

“Not in the slightest.” Blaine offered the flask again. “Jolyon’s first marriage was to a Haldane – not good news for us because it shifted him towards Gwynedd’s favour. God rest Princess Ysyllt, she didn’t give him any heirs, and his second marriage to Urracca of Bremagne reversed that trend and brought him enough of a dowry to start making serious inroads into solidifying his position. Right now Jolyon lacks only one thing of being the first Prince of Meara in centuries to have a strong grip on his realm.”

“An heir.”

Blaine dipped his head to Arkady. “In truth, yes. He has three daughters and by Mearan law as it stands their husbands would all have equal claim on his throne – not to mention that the Duke of Cassan could argue a tenuous claim based on his Quinnell ancestry.”

“Tenuous in the eyes of the law. Not so tenuous when Tambert Fitz-Arthur Quinnell is Chancellor to Urien Haldane.” Nikola offered the flask to his brother who demurred.

“You paint an unhappy picture of affairs in Meara, Sir Blaine. Jolyon’s old enough he can’t be confident of living long enough for a male heir – if he sires another – to reach adulthood. And a regency would be scarcely better than a civil war between his current supporters. I presume then that that’s why he’s been so amenable towards the embassy you were part of.”

“That seems likely, Your Highness. Securing the agreement of his lords to a single heir not directly of his body would be all but impossible if they all see the prospect of securing a royal bride and claim for themselves. Prince Nikola, however, is an outsider to their traditional enmities and by marrying Princess Annalind to someone outside Meara, particularly to Prince Adolphus who’s been offered the distant – to Meara at least – lands of Eastmarch, removes her as a rival.”

“And there’s also the prospect of bringing Cassan and select portions of Gwynedd under his – and eventually your rule, brother.” Arkady rubbed his chin. “If, of course, they’re able to do so.”

Blaine nodded. “Alone that prospect is a distant one, of course. The lands they covet are Cassan, Kierney and Culdi – all of which are much similar in nature to Meara. Even without support from the rest of Gwynedd it’s not clear Jolyon will be able to subdue them easily. Reinforced with mercenaries from the Connait… well, it’s my belief he could take those lands but holding them would be another matter.”

Arkady’s eyes were calculating. “That’s good enough for our purposes, I would say. Whether he succeeds or fails, those same clansmen will be too busy defending their homes to march east and fight under Urien Haldane’s banners against us.”

“And when – oh very well, if – the Haldanes fall, then Torenth and Gwynedd will be more than strong enough to support the claims of the Prince of Meara and,” Nikola coughed, “His dashing young son in law.”

“I think,” Arkady’s lips quirked, “At least one Prince of Torenth would support those claims. And his cousin of Gwynedd would be well advised to.”

The barge closed towards the quay and the oarsmen began shipping their oars. “I think you for your counsel, Sir Blaine,” Arkady continued, lowering his voice slightly. “I hope you would not be averse to offering me further counsel in future if I should call on you?”

“My prince, it would be my honour.”

.o0o.

Far to the west of Beldour, another city wasn’t spared the heavy snows of winter. Laas, fully exposed to the Atalantic, had been buried in several inches of white, transforming the city’s appearance briefly before smoke from hundreds of chimneys returned it to the usual grey.

From the windows of the Prince’s palace, Roisian Quinnell watched these familiar transitions and wondered if she’d see them again.

“Why wouldn’t you?” her sister Annalind asked irritably when the question was voiced. “Father wants you to be his heir and your husband to be Prince after him. I’m the one being sent away.”

With their mother attending to the needs of Magrette, the baby of the family, the two had been left to their devices and those of their mother’s ladies. The latter, so long as the twins kept their voices low, were unlikely to intervene in the conversation.

“Father could live years more,” Roisian reminded her sister. “And Prince Nikola has his own lands in Torenth. If he wants to reside there I might not return to Meara for years. Who knows what might happen?”

“That doesn’t seem likely. Wouldn’t father want him to stay here so he can meet all the Great Lords and get to know them? I’ll have to leave everyone behind when I go to Eastmarch. Eastmarch,” she added scornfully. “The Torenthi heralds might say Prince Adolphus will be a duke but it’s only a county really.”

“Maybe they’ll add more lands to it. Didn’t Marley used to be part of Eastmarch once?”

Annalind frowned. “I don’t know. Perhaps one of the books in father’s library would say, do you want to ask him for permission to find out?”

“I don’t think he’d like to be interrupted.” Roisian gestured towards the window. “I saw three of the Torenthi going to see him earlier and they’re still in the Privy Council chamber.”

“Well they might be able to tell us directly.” Her sister took Roisian by the hand. “Why shouldn’t we go and ask them? It isn’t as if it doesn’t concern us.”

“That’s true.” Roisian let her twin draw her out of her chair. Glancing around quickly at the other ladies she decided not to suggest bringing one as a chaperone. It wasn’t as if she was unaccompanied and they’d probably prefer to return to the common pursuit these days of discussing whose son was courting whose daughter now that the Princesses were spoken for and the sons of the Mearan lords weren’t conspicuously keeping the option of a royal marriage open.

Matters would probably slow down again in another year or two once Magrette was old enough to marry – which raised another question in Roisian’s mind about who their little sister would marry. After a moment she put it from her mind. That sort of decision would have to rest on what alliances looked promising at that time and there was no knowing that at the moment.

Obtaining wraps kept ready behind the door of the withdrawing room, the two young women were about to depart when the door opened to admit their mother with Magrette and her governess behind her.

“Are the two of you planning an expedition?” she asked sceptically. “I don’t recall agreeing to you going anywhere.”

Despite having proposed the idea first, Annalind now retreated shamelessly behind her sister. “Roisian had some questions about the betrothal agreements.”

“Oh? And were you planning to interrupt your father in the Privy Council, with foreign emissaries present? One might think I’ve failed to impress any semblance of good manners on you.”

“Oh not at all,” Roisian prevaricated smoothly. “But Father Ithel might be able to answer the questions and we could pray for the health of our betrothed while we’re at the chapel.”

Urracca’s face suggested she wasn’t entirely convinced by the explanation but Father Ithel – who’d been confessor to her husband, to his brother before him and briefly to their father before that – was certainly unlikely to fall for any mischief on the part of the two girls and the offer of prayers was perfectly appropriate under the circumstances. “Very well then. But I expect you to come directly back here when you’re done – unless your father calls for you before then. He’s very likely to want to present you to the Torenthi formally and I don’t want to have to search the palace for you.”

The girls both nodded hastily in affirmation and kissed their mother’s cheek before departing, Roisian stooping to do the same to Magrette.

The cold air outside brought a rosy hue to the cheeks of the two girls as they crossed the courtyard to the chapel. It was a longer walk than the short distance to the stairs which led to the Privy Council and Roisian was beginning to wish they’d paused to replace their shoes as well by the time they reached the porch of the royal chapel.

Fortunately the heavy oak doors weren’t bolted as Father Ithel sometimes did when the wind was strong enough to force even the weighty panels back. Inside was quiet and the light from a torch beyond the arch leading into the nave. Roisian pushed back her hood and flapped her wrap lightly to remove the worst of the snow from its hem before she went further. Annalind removed the wrap entirely and shook it vigorously. “I wish you’d thought of somewhere nearer to go to,” she complained.

“I’ll be glad to if next time one of your ideas leaves mother unhappy you don’t leave the explanations to me. Besides, Father Ithel probably knows almost as much about Eastmarch as father does.”

“Eastmarch?” The stooped, balding figure of Father Ithel emerged from the chamber across from them, an oil-wrapped package in hand. “Ah, my ladies.” He bowed politely. “What brings you to the chapel this afternoon?”

“Prayers for the health and wellbeing of our betrothed,” Roisian explained smoothly. “And Annalind was curious about Eastmarch since it’s the land her future husband lays claim to.”

“Ah. Well fortunately I’m just breaking out some fresh candles so if you’ll give me a few minutes you can both light one for your future princes and beseech God for their sakes.” He led them down the nave and placed the package on the bare table where candles were usually placed ready for use.

“How is it you’ve no candles out already? Don’t you usually keep at least a score out?”

“Usually, yes. However, the Torenthi seem to need quite a lot of candles so I let them take what they needed this morning. I’m not sure what they want them for,” he added with a slight air of suspicion, “But they’re your father’s guests so it wouldn’t be right to hold back.”

“It wouldn’t indeed.” Annalind shivered. “But you don’t suppose they’re using them for… well, for magic. The Torenthi are all supposed to be Deryni after all.”

“All? No, not even close to that. I’d be surprised if one of them wasn’t though – the House of Furstán are all Deryni and I’d expect King Kyprian would send at least one of his kinsmen among his emissaries. As for magic, you’d have to ask them. You’ll have to get used to it, you know? Both of you are to wed Deryni.”

“Are they very different?”

Ithel considered Roisian’s question thoughtfully before answering. “I suspect it’s not so different from the way many of the barons in the north and west have a touch of what they call the old blood. It may be no different at all except in how they use it. It’s perfectly understandable to find the prospect of marriage a little daunting but being Deryni doesn’t seem to add much to that so far as I’ve seen so far.” He frowned at the knot on the parcel. “Hmm, would either of you two have fingers nimble enough for this? Mine don’t seem quite as deft as they once were.”

Roisian took charge of working at the knot, prying at it gently while Annalind asked: “They say that Prince Adolphus, who I’m to wed, will be Duke of Eastmarch once his brother wins his throne. But I thought that Eastmarch was a county not a duchy.”

“Hmm. Well Eastmarch itself has an Earl, you’re right. It’s been hereditary in the House of Howell for almost a century if I recollect accurately. But before it became part of Gwynedd, Eastmarch was an independent principality like Meara, including what we now call Marley and there are other lands, south and west of them that they once claimed. What exactly your prince will lay claim to is an interesting question but I don’t think it’s one that’s been definitively answered. Most likely it will depend how much favour he has with his brother when the decision must be made.”

“That doesn’t seem very reliable,” Annalind sniffed.

Father Ithel smiled. “A wise prince, my lady, doesn’t swiftly give his word but instead does so judiciously once he’s determined what is best for his realm. If it serves Marek well to seize the lands around Eastmarch to expand his brother’s domain then he’ll no doubt do so.”

“But if those lords pledge themselves to him, he wouldn’t do that, would he?” asked Roisian.

“It seems unlikely.”

“I hope none of them do,” Annalind declared. “Then my children can look for a grand inheritance.”

“Only none of the lords bend the knee to King Marek, then he’ll have a hard time ruling Gwynedd.” The old priest sighed. “There are few easy answers to these questions my ladies. Only time will tell what happens.”

Next Chapter
« Last Edit: August 02, 2015, 02:55:58 pm by drakensis »

Offline Evie

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Re: War of Three Kings - Prologue
« Reply #1 on: November 23, 2014, 02:40:58 pm »
Ooh, interesting perspective!  I could almost feel sorry for Prince Nikola, knowing how his prospects will turn out in the end.  Almost.  Unless, of course, you are planning on taking an alternate universe view of this story, in which Torenth and Meara actually win.  Either way, I'm looking forward to seeing where this story leads.

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Offline revanne

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Re: War of Three Kings - Prologue
« Reply #2 on: November 23, 2014, 03:19:21 pm »
Great story - nearly got in first but Evie just beat me to it.

Really enjoyed seeing it from the other point of view and the descriptions were gorgeous. I'm looking forward to seeing how it unfolds.

Warning to Evie - if this is AU and Torenth and Meara win, no Duncan ::)
"All the world’s a stage,
And all the men and women merely players;
They have their exits and their entrances;
And one man in his time plays many parts."
As You Like It.

Offline Evie

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Re: War of Three Kings - Prologue
« Reply #3 on: November 23, 2014, 04:11:08 pm »

Warning to Evie - if this is AU and Torenth and Meara win, no Duncan ::)

... And all sympathy for Nikola disperses like a fine mist!  ;D
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Offline Aerlys

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Re: War of Three Kings - Prologue
« Reply #4 on: November 23, 2014, 09:06:27 pm »
But, since AU isn't allowed on this forum, Duncan is safe and sound.  :)
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Re: War of Three Kings - Prologue
« Reply #5 on: November 23, 2014, 09:59:25 pm »
It's not?  I don't recall that being anywhere in the forum rules.  Are you referring to the fanfic rule about not using KK's characters in a way that she hasn't depicted them?  I think the intent of that rule was to prevent people from having the canonical characters acting wildly out of character from how they are depicted in canon.  For example, if a fanfic shows Duncan standing in the market square loudly denouncing Christianity while Kelson abdicates the throne because he'd rather spend his days drinking in tavern with Alaric the womanizer who is cheating on his stripper wife Richenda, then that would not simply be AU, it would be AU in such a way that it completely changes the characters that KK created.  But our fanfic boards are full of AU stories and elements.  My Kingdom of Llyr is an AU kingdom in an otherwise canonically-based Eleven Kingdoms.  MerchantDeryni's stories about Camberland were AU in that they postulated the existence of an island nation of Deryni explorers and exiles.  Jerusha had Alaric briefly visiting the 21st Century due to a Transfer Portal glitch.  A "What if?" story that shows what might have happened if some pivotal canonical event had never happened would also be AU, but as long as the canonical characters are reacting appropriately to the new situation rather than becoming totally different people who just happen to have the same names as KK's characters, such a story could also fall within the rules.  Arguably all of our stories could be considered AU, in fact, since only KK's stories are true canon.  I don't think anyone has posted a crossover sort of story here yet (such as Doctor Who has a TARDIS malfunction on Gwynedd, or a Hogwarts student's spell goes badly wrong and he ends up in Loris' kitchen and needs to be rescued from being roasted on a spit), but if the canonical characters in such a story acted in character to how the "real" Alaric, Duncan, Kelson, etc. would in such circumstances, then I think even crossover stories would fall within the guidelines of what is allowed.  Though Bynw is the one who came up with those rules in the first place, so I suppose if there were any question of whether a story strays too out of bounds or not, he would make that final call.  (Or maybe he'd delegate that job to DR.)
« Last Edit: November 23, 2014, 10:05:23 pm by Evie »
"In necessariis unitas, in non-necessariis libertas, in utrisque caritas."

--WARNING!!!--
I have a vocabulary in excess of 75,000 words, and I'm not afraid to use it!

Offline Jerusha

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Re: War of Three Kings - Prologue
« Reply #6 on: November 24, 2014, 06:01:28 am »
Wonderful story - I love the alternate point of view.  I'm looking forward to more.

As for AU, I thoroughly enjoyed having Morgan visit the future - it's interesting (and challenging) to take the "what ifs" and turn them into a realistic adventure.
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Offline drakensis

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Re: War of Three Kings - Prologue
« Reply #7 on: November 24, 2014, 06:04:12 am »
I liked that one too although I was a little unsure by the end exactly how far into the future he'd gone - not all the references seemed to be the same.

Offline DesertRose

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Re: War of Three Kings - Prologue
« Reply #8 on: November 24, 2014, 11:38:16 am »
Evie is correct.  AU is allowed, as long as the characters are still in character and the world is treated respectfully.  Nobody so far has done anything with the characters or the world that seems out of line.  The only things KK really seems to care about is that fanfiction writers play respectfully in her sandbox and don't make money off her characters/world, and I see no danger of either of those here.  :)
"If having a soul means being able to feel love, loyalty, and gratitude, then animals are better off than a lot of humans."

James Herriot (James Alfred "Alfie" Wight), when a human client asked him if animals have souls.  (I don't remember in which book the story originally appeared.)

 

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