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The Knighting of Liam, Chapter 2

Started by DerynifanK, August 15, 2021, 04:17:53 PM

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DerynifanK

The Knighting of Liam, Chapter 2
Rhemuth Castle
1132
Council Chamber

Later that afternoon

Kelson considered his discussion with Prince Nigel as he prepared for a meeting of his Crown Council that afternoon. He planned to present to council Liam's petition to attend Twelfth Night. There were those in Rhemuth who had been dubious about his efforts to build a closer relationship with Torenth. People had long memories and, in light of Torenth's history of intrigue and war, found it hard to trust the Torenthis.  But the ties had proved beneficial. There had been no raids or incursions into Gwynedd since Liam became king. Trade flowed freely between the two kingdoms leading to increased prosperity for both. Attitudes toward both Torenth and Deryni had been slowly changing among the people of  the kingdom as interactions increased. The presence of Liam's brother and heir had also helped with the thawing of relationships between the two kingdoms. Over the past four years Ronal had become well liked and respected at Kelson's court..

Liam had still had much to learn when he began his reign, and he had been fully occupied with his responsibilities. Because of this, he had decided to send his younger brother Ronal, his heir presumptive, to Rhemuth to spend time there learning the same lessons of statecraft that Liam himself had learned. Ronal had now served in Rhemuth for four years and had reached the age of manhood. It was time for him to return to Torenth and take up his duties there. He would be accompanying his brother when he returned home after Twelfth Night Court. 

Kelson entered the council meeting room and looked around at those seated around the table. To the right of the king's chair was Alaric Morgan, Duke of Corwyn, King's Champion and chief advisor. Next to Alaric sat Rory Haldane, Viceroy in Meara. To the king's left was Dhugal McLain, Duke of Cassan and the king's foster brother; next to Dhugal were Bishop Arilan and Archbishop Cardiel. Down the table from Alaric was Graham McEwan, Duke of Claiborne, and next to him was Brendan Coris, the Earl of Marley. Opposite Brendan sat the king's cousin, Payne Haldane, who had been appointed to the council in recognition of his approaching eighteenth birthday and his performance as Duke of Travlum. Facing the king from the opposite end of the table was his uncle, Prince Nigel Haldane, Duke of Carthmoor,  who was responsible for the training of the pages and squires and their advancement toward knighthood.

Kelson convened the council meeting. "Gentlemen, before we address the items on our agenda, I wish to inform you that His Majesty King Liam of Torenth presents a formal petition to attend our Twelfth Night Court and that at that time he be presented as a candidate for knighthood. Before he left us to return to Torenth and take up his duties as king, he made known to Prince Nigel and myself his ardent desire that, when he reached the age of eighteen and was eligible, he be allowed to return to Gwynedd and, if found to be worthy, receive the accolade. He has reached the age when knighthood is conferred on worthy candidates. Prince Nigel and I have discussed his request and we both consider him more than worthy of knighthood. I need to know if any of you have doubts about this matter. Uncle, will you inform the council of our thoughts."

Nigel stood and cast his eyes around the table. "All of you know Liam from his time serving here in Rhemuth. He was one of the best squires I have had under my instruction. Since he has assumed his role as king, he has shown himself to be an honourable ruler who has sought better relations with his neighbors, including Gwynedd. He is known as a man of his word.  He has kept the peace and worked to improve the lives of his people. Although he has not been tested in war, he has demonstrated the skills and abilities of a warrior and leader of men. I consider him more than worthy of the accolade." Nigel resumed his seat.

Kelson continued, "Are there any comments or concerns about Liam's fitness for knighthood? " He addressed the two representatives of the Church. "Excellencies?"

Archbishop Cardiel responded. "Sire, to my knowledge he is a devout Christian. Although he follows the Eastern tradition as would be expected, he was certainly faithful in his observances while he was in Rhemuth, and I would expect nothing less in his own land. He will make a fine, Christian knight. We see no objection to his elevation to knighthood."

Kelson nodded and scanned the faces of the men around the table. "Does anyone have further comments to make?" He paused to allow additional comments.

Duke Alaric spoke. "Although there are a few who still have doubts about Torenth and its intentions toward Gwynedd, I believe that most have come to accept our new relationship and feel that the Torenthis can be trusted. Honoring Liam with the accolade will further strengthen support for this alliance, and I agree that Liam has more than earned it."

Brendan Coris spoke next, disquiet apparent in his voice,  "Your Majesty, I do have concerns, not about Liam's worthiness for the accolade, with which I fully agree,but about his safety while in Rhemuth during the ceremonies. There is a real possibility of an attack during the knighting ceremony. I know you are aware of the continued efforts of Teymuraz to depose Liam in order to take his place on the throne. From his refuge in Byzantyun he continues to devise and implement schemes to foment unrest and unseat Liam, and it has required constant vigilance in Torenth to foil his plots. I have heard rumors that he may see Liam's absence from his capital and his absorption in the knighting ceremony as an opportunity to try an assassination attempt here."

"At least one of my intelligencers has reported unusual activity among Teymuraz's supporters." Brendan continued, "This man has gained information from a contact inside Teymuraz's court indicating that such a plan is being prepared. I would not be surprised if his spies are not already here, trying to infiltrate our ranks and provide critical information, identifying weak spots in our guard. If he does indeed intend to put into action such a plan, he would need to have an army poised to infiltrate Beldour itself and rise up at a signal that the king is dead."

Kelson frowned. "We have considered the possibility of an attempt by Teymuraz to carry out a plot while King Liam is in Rhemuth. We intended to ask this Council's advice on preparations to foil any attacks by him and his supporters. How credible do you find this information?"

"I have used this particular agent many times and have always found his information to be reliable. He is from Cardosa and has many contacts among the various traders and soldiers of fortune who pass through there. He also has contacts inside Teymuraz's court." Brendan paused, looking around the table trying to assess reactions of his fellow councilors. "This is a risky venture for us. I feel we need to decide how to deal with the possibility of an assassination attempt. I know, none better, the consequences of treachery for those who might be thought to be part of it, even if innocent.  If King Liam were to be killed while here in Rhemuth, some in Torenth would blame Gwynedd. It would certainly be a disastrous blow to our alliance with Torenth and might even precipitate a war. It would also be a great personal loss for those of us who call him friend."

"Are you suggesting that we tell Liam he should not attend out of concern for his safety? I am afraid that such an action, whatever the reason, would be seen as an insult to Torenth and an admission of weakness on our part." Kelson knitted his brows.

"No, your Majesty.  I am not proposing that we not proceed with the plans for his knighting, only that we be more than usually vigilant and provide additional protection for the king and his party. Forewarned is forearmed. I am sure that Teymuraz, if he does intend an attack, thinks that the large crowds here for the festivities and the ceremonies attendant on the knighting will provide a distraction, making it easier for his agents to infiltrate the city and provide cover for their attack. I have taken the precaution of sending scouting parties to look for any massing of men in the mountains around Beldour." Brendan glanced around the table at the other men seated there.

Alaric Morgan and Dhugal McLain were both nodding approval of his action. Dhugal weighed in. "Aye, tis the kind o' underhanded plot I would expect from Teymuraz. He may verra well see the knighting as his chance to attack Liam away from his own capital. I think he would also try to kill Liam's heir, so Ronal will also be in danger. Tis the first time he can target both in the same place at the same time. He will see it as a golden opportunity to seize the throne for himself which has long been his goal."

"Alaric, judging by what we have heard, what are your thoughts on this problem?"

Morgan's expression was grim. "Sire, the concerns raised by the Earl of Marley are certainly valid. We must take seriously any threats to the safety of the King of Torenth and also his heir. I also agree that Liam is more than worthy of the accolade, and we cannot withhold it out of fear for his safety. I am sure that he and Duke Matyas have given thought to any risks arising from his attendance at your Twelfth Night Court. I do not know whether he is aware of the latest rumors about Teymuraz's intentions. I can portal to Beldour to consult with Liam and Matyas if you think that is appropriate." Kelson nodded his agreement.

Alaric continued. "I have given some thought to such a possibility since the subject was first broached. If such an attempt is planned, I believe it will be a stealthy attack carried out by a very small number of men, probably two to three attack teams. I believe that, as we have been warned about the possibility, we can put additional safeguards in place to ensure the safety of both Liam and Ronal. Liam will be most vulnerable during the vigil in the cathedral. There are two ways to deal with this. Since Liam is not a squire but a crowned king who has already displayed his honor and religious devotion, he may not be required to keep the vigil. If he still wishes to participate in the vigil, additional guards disguised as monks could be placed in the cathedral to foil any attempt on his life. I will choose some of my most trusted guards, disguise them in monks robes, and place them around the church in strategic spots. I would have one of the priests instruct them in what they should do to appear as clerics who are there for prayer and meditation; if the bishops agree to this and accept our assurance that no lack of reverence or respect is intended." 

He turned his gaze to Bishop Arilan and Archbishop Cardiel who conferred quietly. Arilan's expression reflected doubt and some displeasure, while Cardiel was more serene as was his wont.  Responding to the plan, Cardiel spoke for both of them. "Sire, although this would normally be discouraged, we agree that it may be necessary to have men present, unsuspected, to foil any assassination attempt. Use of regular guards would alert the enemy that their plot is known and they could alter their plans. They might also detract from the focus on meditation and prayer expected of the candidates. We accept this impersonation in this instance as vital to protecting the King of Torenth during his vigil when he is focused on prayer and, therefore, vulnerable.  However, we would stress that this is a unique situation and this should not be considered acceptable in normal circumstances."

Alaric nodded to the two clerics, then continued. "I also propose to set a guard on Prince Ronal. I would use two or three of his fellow senior squires rather than the regular guard to avoid arousing suspicion among any observers. I will see that they accompany him wherever he goes and do not leave him unattended. They will be armed with daggers and short swords, and we will be certain they know what to look for."

"We will also place extra guards in strategic places to protect the other members of Laim's party. These are our preliminary plans which I hope you will find to address most of the concerns attendant on the Twelfth Night ceremonies. If any of you have additional concerns or suggestions, we will welcome your comments and ideas."

Kelson nodded then addressed his advisors. "I have heard no objections to conferring the accolade on Liam, King of Torenth, or to his presence at our court. I am pleased with the preliminary plans I have heard for dealing with the threat from Teymuraz. I am confident that we can thwart any attempt to disrupt the ceremonies or carry out an assassination."

Looking pleased, the king continued. "I believe this will be another tie that will help bind our kingdoms together. Currently,  Duke Matyas plans to remain behind in Beldour in the king's absence to oversee the affairs of the kingdom. However, he does wish to be present for the actual ceremony of knighthood.  He proposes to travel here by portal for the actual ceremony, returning immediately after its completion."

"As of now, our best course seems to be to continue with the preparations for Twelfth Night and to devise a plan to meet any move Teymuraz might make. I will keep you informed of developments.  I thank you for your thoughts. I will continue to need your support at this time. We will now continue with the items on our agenda."
"Thanks be to God there are still, as there always have been and always will be, more good men than evil in this world, and their cause will prevail." Brother Cadfael's Penance

Laurna

It is good to see Brendan as an adult and a respected member of Kelson's Council. And nice to see the council respecting Liam and the hard work it must have taken to turn Torenth around and hold it  steady in a new course.  I look forward to see where this will lead. 
Thank you DerynifanK.  Carry on!
May your horses have wings and fly!

LeDuc

Even Kelson has grown and progressed, and it shows in the makeup of his Crown Council.