Session One Hundred Forty - July 22, 2017

Wherein the ongoing story of the FtF campaign may be found ...

Session One Hundred Forty - July 22, 2017

Postby Matt » Sat Sep 02, 2017 6:14 pm

Halane 27, 732

Early morning a light rain falls in Tashal, providing just enough of a mist to bathe the city in gray.

Sir Baris, perhaps wroth or perhaps just drunk, leaves Raven Hall shadowed by the steps of Cekiya as he goes. The wayward warrior stumbled first to Neph House and throwing an empty mug into the other refuse of the street begins to sing a combination serenade or drinking song. Anyone who chanced to listen wasn’t sure which, and neither apparently did the singer know. Having been stuck on the chorus for a few repetitions Sir Baris gives up and moves on to his accustomed place of slumber.

The shade of Raven Hall noted a small group of people exiting a building in Haldan Square and as Sir Baris passes the lintel of the Elf and Dwarf she also sees the Lord Marshal Orsin Firith and his son exit Firith house mounted. The hour of night making the sight of two mounted parties unusual Cekiya thinking her assigned job done decides to indulge her curiosity and follow them instead.

The Firiths on their progress are in a short time at Ternua Gate. Having collected the first party, the shade of Raven Hall observed Lady Cheselyne and a retinue from Balim House, including the Earl. The gate is opened at the command of the Lord Marshal and the party depart Tashal.

Thinking this to be of some import Cekiya made directly for Raven Hall and her master, the Baron.

Sir Ewen finally getting some sleep is awakened by a hand upon him and the voice Cekiya in his ear.

“Sir Ale is fine, but the city doesn’t sleep.”

Lord Ewen opened his eyes to see only the darkness of the room, though he addressed it.

“Has Sir Baris gone to his usual bed?”

“He was not riding around, but others were.”

“And who was on horse?” Ewen was fully awake now.

“The loud curse one, One-Eyed Soldier, Snooty Neighbor, and Lord Spider.”

“Where did they go?”

“Down way, through the gate.”

“Go wake the Squires and have them get the horses.”

In a few minutes everyone assembled in the hall of Raven Hall trying to get more information from the riddled speech of Cekiya. As she told the story again Sir Æomund guessed that the first party was leaving Hirnen House, and that this may be an Elendsa Clan gathering. When Goreg returns and says the gate guard refused to let him exit to gather the horses the Baron reconsidered his night ride and sent everyone back to bed.

In the morning, once he was well rested, the Baron of Ternua composed his mind and bent his will towards one in the party he believed was unprotected by the dweomer that seemed to guard the notables of the realm. His first attempt was towards Arlbis Hirnen, but this produced nothing. Next his mind’s eye bent towards Tarkin Hirnen and slowly an image formed in his mind. With his eyes closed the Baron sees and hears through the senses of the man he had conjured. He sees a small lake, and a village of people about their morning business, but nothing of any worth to the Baron’s purpose.

Raven Hall was seldom quiet and this morning was no different, though Sir Baris had not yet appeared. A knock came from the door and soon all knew that there was a lady with a message inquiring to see Sir Æomund Legith.

A small note is passed to the knight and from the cover he believes it is from Astaroc, though why he should receive a note from the former master of this house is unknown to him. He breaks the seal and there is only one line of text.

“Young Legith, call upon me at noon. Do not be late. A”

The knight looked at the messenger, “Tell your master I will comply.”

The girl bowed, “He is not my master, but I will inform him.”

The knight turned to see his feudal lord observing the exchange.

“Well this should prove interesting.”

Sir Æomund queried the master of the house, “Is there something that I should know going into this meeting?”

The Baron of Ternua shrugged, “You are upon your own wits on this one. Perhaps a seed cake?”

Promptly at noon, seed cake in hand, the knight knocked upon the door of the current residence of Astaroc, notably next door to his parent’s house. Without delay the lady from earlier in the morning opens the door and the knight is ushered into the house. In an adjacent chamber sits the preserved warlock as the knight is shown in.

“Ah a seed cake. I have been getting seed cake and more seed cake, but thank you. I have been speaking to your mother. She is fascinating.”

Sir Æomund without the slightest idea of why he is here decides to say as little as possible until the purpose of his visit has been revealed.

“She is quite the astronomer. Took me into the observatory. She is quite skilled, and she spoke to me about you. You serve that Ewen fellow, though that gave me pause and I almost changed my mind.”

“I have the pleasure of serving the lord of Ternua in feudal obligation.”

“Yes, yes. I almost changed my mind, as I said. You are still an active member of the Lady of Paladins? Good, it is upon that that I will require your oath if you agree to my request. This whole king business has been getting on my nerves. I don’t give a damn who is king but everyone else does, unless it’s them, and most don’t seem to want it. Except for a few, usually the wrong few.” He paused. “I want you to represent me.”

Æomund cocks an eye, taken aback by the request.

“I want you to vote in my place and vote for whoever you damn well please.”

“You’re giving me your vote for king?”

“I’m not really an Elendsa so I don’t give a shit. Here is the part I must have your oath, one way or the other. I will not bind you not to tell your master, for that would put you in conflict, but I will otherwise bind you to keep what I tell you to yourself.”

“As far as it is in my power to do so, I swear upon the stake of St. Ercenwall that I shall speak of it to none.”

“There is occuring right now, a meeting of Elendsa Clan members. I just can’t be bothered going, but Troda insisted that I go or give a proxy. I told him I would send a proxy later and to put a thumb in his eye, I’m sending you.”

“Master Astaroc, I was raised in Balim House.”

“Don’t care. Your mother put the thought in my head. She said you were scrupulous in honesty, and it would be your undoing.”

“Do you care for a report?”

“Eh, I’ll find out later.”

Sir Æomund bowed his head, “I’ll have to talk to my mother, and thank her for the opportunity to excel.”

“You’ll want to know where this meeting is I assume? It’s at Caleme.”

“Will the Archbishop be there?” For Sir Æomund believed him to be firmly in the Curo kingship camp.

“I believe he will; it’s his abbey. Take this letter, it appoints you as my proxy. That should make Troda raise an eye or irritate his plumage of pride.”

The stoic knight of Larani departed and made his way quickly to Raven Hall. The knight guessed that this would be news that his lord would want to hear immediately. Upon leaving the knight noted the seed cake was still in his hand. After taking a bite for himself, he broke it in pieces along the way and handed it to the most destitute persons he passed.

Upon making his report to the Baron of Ternua, Æomund for the first time sees his lord surprised.

“I too was surprised my lord.”

“Good choice I am sure you will do splendidly. Call the squires and my various hangers on of the house and let us ride for Caleme, as soon as possible.”

Whether the knight took his lord’s words literally or he was otherwise engaged, the party left absent Sir Baris.

As dusk set upon the kingdom on the Kald the party of the Baron of Ternua arrived at Caleme Abbey, seat of the Archbishop of Kaldor. While seeking for accommodations that town was much full of the retainers of those already present. While the attendees and principals of the family took up residence in the Abbey itself The Unwilling Warrior inn was bursting at the seams and no rooms to be had. Fortunately the town boasted two inns, the second The Stout Fox. Run by one Frannel of Luss, whose pride was assuaged by not having the same attention as his competitor by now being able to boast he had a Baron in attendance.

That same morning, after admiring the way the serving girl Amelia’s dress clung to her wet form after her usual morning swim in the Kald, Sir Baris decided that he would teach Ewen the value of his services. If he was needed today, he just wouldn’t be there! That would do the trick. Where to go though? the knight mused. Maybe he should see how some of the competition was doing – a little ‘research’ of sorts. Since it was a legitimate business expense, Sir Baris took 120d, and set off on a tour of Tashal’s other taverns.

Seeing his lord well and set in comfort and safety, the stoic Æomund headed to the Abbey’s main gate. There he is stopped by two guards, despite the emblem of his order on his tunic. Casually the knight holds up the letter.

“I am here officially for the meeting – my letter of proxy.”

Without moving or changing his direction the older of the guards replies, “What meeting?”

“The Elendsa one.”

“Oh the secret one. You better come with us then.” It occurred to Sir Æomund that referring to a secret meeting openly as a ‘secret meeting’ was probably unwise, but decided it was not the time to instruct the meken in such subtleties.

As the knight moved into the confines of the abbey another knight known to him spies his progress. Sir Tanyl stands at the tower, relaxed but alert.”

“Sir Æomund? Two visits in so short a time?”

The knight smiles and hands him the note. “Sir Tanyl, the Lady above works, and the Kald ever flows, but my fate is certainly not so reliable. I am here on business.”

Breaking the seal the knight scans the letter and laughs, “This is astonishing.”

“I said so myself.”

“Well then, I will take you to Lord Balim.”

“I was afraid you would say that.”

After a stop at the house, in which Sir Æomund sees various notables of the clan, the two make for the Bishop’s tower. On their arrival Sir Scina answers the door.

“Æomund. What are you doing here?” he rasps.

“I’m here to cast a vote at the meeting.”

“That can’t be right …” growled the scarred face of the scion of Dariune.

From the back of the room came the voice of Lord Balim, “Bring him in my son.”

Scanning the room Æomund sees that Harapa Indama, Karasin Dariune, Fargo Rheeder, and the Earl of Balim are all present.

“Lord Balim, I am here as the proxy of Master Astaroc. Here are my credentials.”

He takes them and reads it, sighing and hands the letter back to the knight.

“This is highly irregular, but I did tell him I would accept his proxy and here it is. I am sure you can fend for yourself here. We will have service at 8 and then convene in the abbey chapterhouse after. You will be pleased to hear that the Serolan and not the Serekela will be giving the sermon.”

Having no further business and not wishing to be drawn into any schemes of the Earl, Sir Æomund quickly withdrew to the chapter house and available quarters for himself and Petros.

With all the additional unplanned servants and retainers at Caleme, an impromptu festival of sorts springs up. Ale casks are opened and entertainers shaken from their regular schedule to meet the needs and demands of all the new patrons. The Peonian Temple staged a morality play that filled the audience to bursting, less for the moral lessons and more for the skill and endowments of the leading lady, well loved by the Meken stationed at the Abbey as part of the regular garrison. A quirk of the town and by order of the Archbishop prostitutes and their trade were not permitted in Caleme, but the astute soon found that the serving maids were only available for private parties, though not a few of them were in residence, and not long idle.

Halane 28, 732

After, what was in truth an engaging sermon to all by Serolan Aparna Meleken, the principals of Clan Elendsa exited the soaring cathedral to the chapterhouse. Along the way, Sir Prehil noticed Sir Æomund.

“ÆOMUND! Are you here performing your summer obligation?”

“No Sir Prehil, I am afraid not.”

“What!? By the Crafter’s Rigid Tongs, you sound stern and like your boss.”

“Unfortunately I believe I am here as a family joke of Astaroc – I’m his proxy.”

The knight oblivious of his surroundings throws back his head and laughs.

“That’s a damn fine joke I should have had a proxy. Welcome, as an honorary Elendsa. I have to tell you though it’s going to be a long couple of days. There is nothing to do in this keep of want-to-be saints, no offense. Though I heard that the wenches at the Stout Fox serve more than ale, if you know what I mean. Is Baris here?”

“No Baris didn’t make it. There was some kind of exchange with Lord Ewen yester eve. Something along the lines of ‘taking what was his’ and ‘standing up for himself’. Sir Ewen sent him away from Raven Hall as he was in his cups and we left him in Tashal.”

Sir Prehil looked at little surprised or sheepish, Sir Æomund could not tell. “Oh … if Baris, ahh never mind.”

His father stood behind him and shook his head too, although for an altogether different reason. “There is no telling what Astaroc will do, ever. I’m not sure what impact his one vote will have in the debate, but it’s yours to cast.”

Sir Æomund wondered too how the next few days would go, the Lady truly worked in ways that he could not comprehend.

Within the Chapterhouse Sir Æomund saw it arrayed as he had before. There were bench seats all around and a dais in the front. To the dais went the major personages of the family: Lord Balim, Cheselyne Hosath, Orsin Firith, Prince Korwyn, Arlbis Hirnen, and strangely enough Serli Ubael the Younger. The last of which caused Sir Æomund to linger his gaze upon. She was Sir Prehil’s cousin and had a right to be there, but such a position with those others was notable. Sir Æomund stared longer than that thought would have justified and forgetting her name and station he gazed at her with other feelings coming to mind.

It would soon become apparent how this would work. There were sixteen delegates: Balim (3 votes), Lady Cheselyne (4), Lord Firith (1), Prehil Firith(1), Lenera Firith (1), Serli Ubael the Younger (3), Kymed Firith (2), Asorn Firith (1), Tarkin Hernin (1), Arlbis Hirnen (2), Ithina Hernin (1), Siwen Elendsa (2), Korwyn Elendsa (1), Harapa Indama (1), Scina Dariune (1), Karison Dariune (1), Æomund Legith (1). Those holding more than one vote had proxies for the other, and Sir Harapa and Sir Æomund were both proxies as well.

The total votes being 27, with two-thirds needed for selection – or 18.

(Four people were ineligible to vote or have a proxy: Haldan III, Kornuska Harabor, Brandis Elendsa, and Tulath Kaphin.)

Unsurprisingly, the Earl of Balim brought the meeting to order. To the discomfiture of the knight, the first business however was to call for the letter that Sir Æomund had borne to the meeting and called him forward.

Presiding he said, “Lord Astaroc has named his proxy.”

The Lady Cheselyne quipped loudly and haughty, “Ahhh Astaroc! Are we going to allow this to stand?”

“He has the right to name his proxy and has done so, Sir Æomund is an honorable man,” replied the Earl of Balim.

From the dais Lady Serli spoke up, “I will attest to the good knight’s honor; I suggest that he stays.”

The others at the table nod in agreement, the solemn moment is broken by Sir Prehil standing and calling form the back, “WELL YOU’RE IN COUSIN OF THE DAY!” While he wildly points to a seat next to him on the bench.

Order soon restored by the sitting of the knight with his friend. Lord Balim begins.

“I thought it would be a good idea to lay out the parameters of the meeting since we have not had to do this, well almost not within living memory, so it is important that we all understand what the results of this family meeting will be when we vote tomorrow. Whoever we chose will immediately become the clan head. Also it would be recommended that this individual adopt, if they do not already have, the surname ‘Elendsa’ and would immediately become earl of Olokand. Equally important is that the earldom of Olokand will be separate, for a time, from the Crown. This will mean that the four baronies that are tenants-in-chief of the Crown, but which in fact are subinfeudated to Olokand will immediately revert to the status of vassals of the earl of Olokand. To remind you, three of those baronies are represented here. Sir Harapa of Getha, Lord Firith of Kobe, two. Sir Arlbis of Nenda three, and I suppose Sir Æomund is de facto representing the fourth: Ternua.”

Sir Æomund feeling the duties of his office weighing on him so soon stood and spoke, interrupting the Earl of Balim on a point of order.

“My proxy is not for the Baron of Ternua. I stand as a fully deputized voting family member.”

“Yes that is important and noted. I propose at this point that we see where we stand.”

Lady Cheselyne demurred. “Troda … before we do anything so vulgar as vote, perhaps we could at least discuss, in a civilized way, all the members of the family with a claim.”

“I second that!” came a response from Tarkin. And with that the hasty progress of Balim was gainsaid and the meeting passed into a two hour discussion and the nearness of kin and passage of rights and titles.

Sir Æomund was fond of history and lore, but this minutia bored even him, while Sir Prehil diced with his cousin Kymed on the bench beside him. “Are we voting for the king at this meeting?” Æomund asked.

The knight looked up, “Of course we are, you think we would do this only for the earldom of Olokand?”

“I find the reasoning of Lord Balim on the status of the baronies a bit stretched.”

“I’m surprised you were even following that, or was it in-between looking at my dear cousin?”

“Well Sir Prehil, I don’t know if that was called for.”

“Æomund, I do two things well. Notice women other than my wife, and drink. In fact I have managed even to lose at dice with myself. She was looking at you too when your face was bent trying to work out the cousins of the nth degree of long dead relations of mine.”

As the afternoon wore on a vote was finally achieved revealing the development of five faction blocks. The Lord Marshal the Baron of Kobe achieved nine votes. Serli Ubael the Younger, the apparent straw horse of Balim achieved five. While the ex-king’s living outlaw son Brandis garnered four, with four abstentions. Finally Lady Cheselyne Hosath garnered five votes. Much to the pleasure of the ego and pride of the lady as she had vast four votes on her own and with the vote of Sir Æomund in her favor managed to tie for second. Lord Balim chose to call upon the knight last, deeming a solo proxy vote least in the order of precedence.

His vote cast Sir Prehil exclaimed loudly, “FABULOUS! IT’S LIKE THE OLD CODGER WAS ACTUALLY HERE!”

Sir Æomund sat down quickly. “My vote was meaningless in the first round. Though with it I have spent something of little value to me, and stroked the ego of one mindful to recall my deed later.”

As if to prove his point the Lady Cheselyne, who had previously dismissed the knight, now paid closer attention to him.

“Why Æomund you rascal, do the streets of Tashal always breed such warrior diplomats?”

Sir Æomund did not take the comment from his friend as a slight, though he was of more humble origins, a subject he was sensitive to.

“I am but the instrument of …”

“Alright, all right. I heard all that this morning.”

Around the two knights the crowd begins to stir and it becomes evident that in the meantime the meeting had been adjourned. The knight made his way towards the floor in time to hear Lord Firith respond to his cousin the Earl of Balim, “Yes. I’ll be there.” While the other members of the dais appear to be dining separately Sir Æomund made his way towards Lady Serli.

“Lady Serli, a pleasure to see you again, when last we met you were the victor of a battle, and now I find you second in the running for the chief of the royal clan.”

“Sir Æomund, how nice to see you. I don’t think anyone is taking my candidacy seriously, I am but a pawn for Lord Balim. Your vote was most gallant.”

The knight spoke quietly, “Well it cost me nothing and it was of great worth to her.”

“You will be invited to tea for the rest of your life.” She said smiling.

“I’m sure the business of politicking will soon take place.”

“You mean here at Caleme? Wouldn’t be the first time.”

“It appears to me that whoever gets the vote will be the candidate for king as well.” Sir Æomund wishing only to prolong the conversation, but also not knowing really what to say.

“Yes, whether that person has the support of the council remains to be seen.”

“So you don’t take your candidacy seriously?”

“No, that would make me queen, who would take that seriously?”

“I could be persuaded, but I don’t think anyone is taking my vote seriously.” What sounded endearing in his head came out clearly not so.

“No, but you enjoy great respect, that helps. Your master on the other hand has great respect but may have something more valuable, he also inspires fear and confusion.”

Since the Lady was handing out compliments Sir Æomund attempted to stroke his ego and solicit more for himself. “No doubt I hope from my taking of Heru, Qualdris, and the bloodless victory of Ternua.”

That statement too sounded better in his head.

“Do you think Lord Firith will take the crown?” Sir Æomund continued.

“I am certain of it, who better to lead our kingdom in these troubled times, he would be King Torastra reborn.”

“Do you think that Lord Balim will support him? Why wouldn’t he just support him from the beginning and dispense with the debates?”

“You would have to ask Lord Balim that question. He plays a very close game.”

“I’d prefer not to get trapped in that web.”

“You are wise Sir Æomund of the Lady of Paladins, and I am expected elsewhere.”

With a nod the Lady turned and walked away, while Æomund stood watching her go oblivious of the others in the room.


Elsewhere as fast as his feet could carry him Prehil arrives in the common room of the Stout Fox. The boisterous Alderman to the Nobles had heard, through trusted sources, that the food was good, several ales to choose from, and the serving maids were not for ale.

The reeve, Elmena of Dozamen, was almost plowed over as he burst on the scene.

“EWEN! What the…oh right ÆOMOND’S here.”

He takes a chair by the Baron.

“I have been espying the women, knowing you were here about. They are all available.” replied the Baron of Ternua, First Knight of Kaldor, dryly.

“I know there all available, but which one’s the best? I know that you are a married man and all but … Say where is your wife, Ternua? Speaking of which my wife seems to be gaining weight …”

Arva, close at hand, said, “Oh, are congratulations in order?”

The Baron smiled, though there was no mirth in his face, “I hear it’s advised not to be in room when they give birth.”

Sir Prehil laughed truly and loudly, “I don’t plan on being in the kingdom. I suppose you want to know what’s going on in the abbey?”

“My man Æomund is in there,” was the only response.

“He soldiered through it; my father fell asleep. It appears my father is in the lead so I suppose that puts me in the running. If I were free to make a decision I would say let Cheselyne have it. She’s the only one that wants it.”

Arva again from the side, “Then who would follow her?”

“Who cares, maybe her daughter will come back with another husband Ewen can kill. I’m sure she would make a fine queen.”

Sir Ewen steepled his hands as was his habit, “What about running the realm?”

“She has fantastic parties, as long as she keeps everyone in their place it will be fine. I might vote for her, actually. Æomund did today, not sure if that was Astaroc’s idea or his own … caused a minor stir of course. Though not taken seriously. He claims it was strategy.”

“I understand the lady doesn’t see me in a very good light, having beheaded both of her sons-in-law.”

Sir Prehil was already on his second ale, “Well I don’t know if she can hold that against you, one was in a tournament, the other a Harabor: should have been expected.”

“I suppose this will all need to be done for us to make it to the next council meeting?”

“Should be done tomorrow. Why? Curious at the outcome?”

“I’d be lying if I was not at least curious.”

“Truth is nothing to be told yet. Maybe tomorrow. I’m gonna take an ale and a serving non-serving girl upstairs. Good morrow.”

Sir Æomund not content to let the burden of his proxy pass him by, idly thought to influence the election in the way his conscience, and Lady Serli had indicated. After taking his meal with the knights of the Order, his first goal was to learn what he could. He made his way to the guest house and where the bulk of the voting members were staying. There he discovered that of all the other guests were there save Lady Serli who was staying in the Rebelna’s Tower. He was soon in conversation with Arlbis and his uncle.

“Well Sir Æomund, never thought to see you here.”

“I didn’t think that I would be seen here either.”

“Not only the meeting, but here in the room seems somewhat fast company for a knight of your, um, stature.”

Sir Æomund was not prepared to let that slight pass him by, and touched to close to his pride in both being a duly appointed official and here in the seat of his prestigious order.

“Abstaining in the vote seemed to show you’re unsure yourself.”

Arlbis’ uncle Tarkin laughed, “ I don’t know you that well Sir Æomund but were you on the hunt with Lord Ewen?”

“The Baron of Ternua? No, I was not.”

“Right, you weren’t but now you are here simply as Astaroc’s proxy. Well I was Lord Chancellor to the King of Kaldor and we want our posting back. We don’t care who is king, but that I am his chancellor.”

Arlbis chimed in, “My uncle was a good chancellor. Our four votes are available to whoever will make Tarkin chancellor again and you may tell that to whichever falconer sent you as a bird.”

Sir Æomund bowed his head slightly to the men, “I’ll leave you to your noble pursuits.”

For not the first time that day Sir Æomund humbled himself before the will of Larani, and pursued what he thought was his duty, if ever so slightly implied, in the manner of the clan vote. Next Sir Æomund sought out the Lady Cheselyne Hosath.

“M’Lady a moment of your time?”

“Oh, Sir Æomund, you voted for me, I had no idea. There will be a place for you in my reign.”

“Do you think you will carry the vote, or could I perhaps ask you to cast your votes for the Lord Marshal? So that we may dispense with further debate.”

Lady Cheselyne was vain, but she was also a realist. “I see. I never knew a knight of the Lady of Paladins to be a student of realpolitik.”

Wrapping her arm about his waist and rear she continues.

“I will say this to you Sir Æomund, no. I don’t expect my relatives to come to their sense, but I do want something. A minor office, an appointment of some kind. Give me that and you can have my four votes. Come to my house and you can have my four votes without the sinecure.”

“I’ll see what may be done on your behalf. If you’ll excuse me, I have obligations here at the Abbey.”

The knight quickly made for the yard of the Abbey, both his patience and his will for the matter at hand had waned after the last two discussions. Thinking to redeem himself and the words he spoke earlier he sought out Lady Serli Ubael in the Reblena’s Tower. A Meken stood at guard upon the door.

“Is the Lady Serli in residence?”

He answered promptly recognizing the knight’s office.

“She is in residence in the tower, but is not in the tower.”

“Very good.”

He turned to walk away, but was recalled by the guard.

“Uh Sir Æomund , if it wouldn’t be so forward. I understand that you were on the Silver Way last year.”

“I was.”

“A couple of my friends were there. Will you tell me what happened?”

In the darkness the knight looked for a moment at the guard. Then in measured meter of his own devising he sang. A song yet unheard by any, save only in his own thoughts.

Then one stood on the road, sternly calling out,
a Viking herald, conversing in many words,
he delivered in a vaunt the message of the brine-sailors
to that nobleman Tibalt, where he stood on the path:

“They have sent me to you, the hardy sea-men—
they bid you be informed that you must quickly send
rings in exchange for protection, and it would be better
for you to buy off with tribute this storm of spears,
otherwise we should deal in such a hard battle.
We needn’t destroy ourselves if you are sufficiently rich—
we wish to establish a safeguard in exchange for silver.
If you decide this, you who are most powerful here,
and you wish to ransom your people
and give to the sea-men, according to their own discretion,
money in exchange for peace, and take a truce at our hands,
we will go back to our ships with our payment,
and sail away, holding the peace with you.”

Tibalt Master of Horse and Spear spoke back, raising up his shield,
waving his slender spear, speaking in words,
angry and resolute, giving them answer:

“Have you heard, sailor, what these people say?
They wish to give you spears as tribute,
the poisonous points and ancient swords,
this tackle of war that will do you no good in battle.
Herald of the brine-men, deliver this again,
say unto your people a more unpleasant report:
here stands, with his troops, a renownéd knight
who wishes to defend this homeland,
his country, his lord, his citizens and territory. The heathens
shall perish in battle. It seems a humiliation
to let you go to your ships with our treasures
unfought—now you have come thus far
into our country. You must not get our silver or gear
so softly. Points and edges must reconcile us first,
a grim war-playing, before we give you any tribute.”

Then, bearing his shield, he ordered his warriors to advance,

And the shelter of heroes ordered his war-hardened warriors
to keep the road. One was named Urvaen,
keen amongst his kin, one was the son of Othis,
who with his spear shot down the first man
who was boldest and stepped onto the path.
There stood with Tibalt warriors unafraid,
Alamus and Vuris, two proud men,
they did not wish to flee from the road,
yet they fixedly defended it against their foes,
as long as they were allowed to wield their weapons

There was shouting heaved up, and ravens circling,
eagles eager for carrion—an uproar was on the earth.
Then they let fly from their hands spears file-hardened,
the spears grimly ground down, bows were busy—
shields were peppered with points

There requital was given back to the Vikings—
as I heard it— Æomund struck down one
mightily with his sword, not withholding his blow,
so that a fated champion fell down at his feet.

They all stood so firmly stiff-minded,
the young warriors in the battle, thinking eagerly
who they could soonest conquer
with their swords, the life of fated men,
the warriors with their weapons. Slaughter fell upon the earth.

Then more brine-men, with their Jarl came up
wishing to carry off the rings of the warriors,
the armor and the accoutrements and the ornamented blade.
Then Tibalt drew out his sword from its sheath,
broad and brown-edged, and struck him in the byrnie.
Too quickly some sail-man hindered him,
when he wounded the arm of that jarl.
The golden-hilted sword fell to the ground—
neither could he hold the stern blade,
or wield his weapon. Nevertheless the hoary battle-warrior
spoke a word, emboldening his fighters,
ordered them to go forth as good comrades;
then he could not stand fast on his feet for long.

Tibalt looked to heaven:
“I thank you, Wielder of peoples,
for all these joys that I have experienced in the world.
Now I have, mild Measurer, the greatest need
that you should grant my spirit the good
that my soul may be allowed to venture unto you
into your keeping, Lady of Light
ferrying with peace. I am a suppliant to you
that these hell-harmers shall not be allowed to injure it.”

Then the heathen warriors cut him down
and both of the men who stood beside him,
Arwyn and Imadar, both lay there,
when they gave up their lives beside their captain.

There was a crashing of shields. Seafarers came forth
enraged in the fight; the spear often went right through
the life-houses of the fated. Then Oren went forth,
Thurstan’s son, he fought against the warriors—
he was in the press, the killer of three of them,
before Kymed’s son lay dead among the slain.
There was a stern moot there. They stood fast,
warriors in the warfare, warriors perishing,
warriors wearied by wounds.
                                    The slain fell to the earth.

There was a moment of silence in the darkness, “The lady is with the Archbishop tonight, sir knight.”

Sir Æomund seeking to use his close friendship with Sir Ortis made for the spot and engaged his friend.

“Sir Æomund I wish I could ask you up, but I can’t and I am on duty. If you are here tomorrow then maybe we can catch up. I hear you are pressed between two worlds and when last we spoke you were in haste to Ternua. Duty is the greatest virtue of a knight.”

“Aye, it is. If you happen to see Lady Serli, would you let her know you saw me and that I was headed to the old chapel.”

Sir Ortis smiled and slapped him on the back, “Indeed I shall, for this small task I believe is in my power.”

The old chapel of the Abbey was seldom used, though kept in cleanliness and repair. The building was keeping with the simpleness of the early church before wealth and power augmented the Abbey to its present state. Sir Æomund quickly passed two hours there in silent prayer.

After an unknown period of time to the knight passed the door opened.

A soft woman’s voice said, “No wait outside.”

The candle light of the chapel revealed Lady Serli Ubael the Younger as she entered. “You wished to see me?”

Sir Æomund rose and stood a solitary figure and benchless open hall of the old church.

“I thought to steal some of your time before you were queen and I’d not have the chance again.”

She smiles and looks down, “That is unworthy of you. For you don’t need to flatter me to gain a moment of my time. But I would ask you, in the vote tomorrow, to support my uncle. The right man to be king.”

Sir Æomund found that even here and now he could not escape fate and he bowed his head.

“This chapel is old, I like it more than the more grandiose one. It is simple and seems to speak louder to me. By the Lady I will do as you wish in this, as in all things, that are in my power to do.”

Her voice joined his in the echoes of the chamber above.

“Yes many of the more traditional priests prefer this to the grand chapel. The last Soratir of every month is held here.”

“I am sorry then that I missed it.”

“I love Caleme; my Aunt Lenera is the Suloran here. If I could lose myself in the library, perhaps then I would be happy. Will you escort me to the Reblena's Tower?”


A lone guard stood by the doors as they exited and saluted the knight. The night had grown overcast and warm, hiding the stars and the moon, creating a slight glow from the nearby torchlight and distant moon. They passed in silence and reached the appointed tower, the Lady extended her hand and he kissed it lightly.

“Good night Sir Æomund, I know I can count on you.”

She passes into the tower and the Meken who walked behind them, his duty to watch the lady spoke after she left.

“Permission to speak freely sir?”


“The noble lady is very fond of you sir.”

“Did I miss something?” Queried the somber knight.

“No. You are just lucky sir.”

“As servants of the Order, it is not strange for us to be in the service of Ladies, but I find I understand none of them.”

The Meken nodded shrewdly.

Halane 29, 729

Sir Baris started awake. A crepuscular light slatted through the shuttered window. He didn’t recognize the room, the bed, or the woman laying beside him. He was unclad. For a moment of terror, he saw the flaming red hair of his bedmate, and thought he might have been intimate with his worst enemy Kryste! But no, it wasn’t her. Meleine?! No, too big. Baris rose, and began to look for his garb. His sword lay incongruously across the head of the bed. The woman stirred, mumbling, “It’s over, get out.” Baris collected his things – his purse was conspicuous in its absence – and made his way to the Elf and Dwarf, where he learned that the 28th of Halane was a complete mystery to him.

The day is overcast, but not raining and the extended Elendsa family gathers again in the Abbey chapterhouse.

Sir Prehil entered just as they proceeded through the gate.

“You’re almost late,” cried Æomund to his friend. “I spoke to Lady Cheselyne, and for small office she would be willing to vote for your father.”

“I’ll give her a big office,” Sir Prehil laughed.

Sir Æomund pressed, “Would you be willing to make her alderman?”

“Politicking again Tashal rogue? That’s a great idea I would have less work to do. It’s a thankless task that I spend countless minutes on. I hate it, but I’ll cede it if her four votes go the way my father votes.”

“Very well. I had thought to forestall more wrangling, but if that is your price.”

“Will you follow my father’s lead?”

“I have and would follow your father in many things, but I don’t know yet if the vote will be one of them.”

In the short moments that Sir Æomund has in the progress at the expense of being fondled again by the Lady Cheselyne he secures her votes and finds that she warmed immediately to the idea of being the voice of all nobles in the city.

The clan gathering begins again as it did the previous day.

“M’Lords and Ladies, kinsmen, all, except one. We have had some interesting discussions haven’t we?”

There is a ripple of laughter in the crowd, though Æomund realizes that the shot was directed at him by Lord Balim.

“It is time for us to vote for our new clan head, for who holds Olokand, and the candidate whom we all will support for the crown of Kaldor. I believe there are no objections.”

The door opens and Archbishop Edine Kynn enters.

“Have you come to partake in this decision?”

“I would not miss it, I’ll simply sit here on the end.” The Archbishop moved to the dais and sat upon the edge.

“No no. This is your abbey, come. I will cede your chair to you.”

With the prelate seated and Lord Balim standing he continues, confident in his manner and words.

“We have come to the time for voting. If there is no more debate – and there shouldn’t be – WE must select a clan head. Remember if we do not stand together we will lose the throne and all of our power and wealth. I call for Sir Arlbis Hirnen to vote first.

He stands and walks to the center.

“My Lord of Balim are we agreed?”

“We are.”

“Then I cede my four votes to you, M’Lord.”

“My Lord of Kobe, are we agreed?” continued the Earl of Balim.

“Yes, I shall vote as you say.”

“Lady Cheselyne?”

“I shall vote the way Sir Aeomund votes.” This reply caused a stir in benches and Sir Æomund felt like he wanted to be somewhere else immediately, that was not the way he had arranged that. Sir Prehil saved him by bursting out, “HE DID IT AGAIN. Astaroc, the old devil!”

Lord Balim refused to lose the momentum again as he had yesterday and continued formally.

“Prince Korwyn?”

“I stand for my own. I can do no other.”

“I understand, very well.”

Balim descended and stood in the middle of the chamber.

“My candidate was, and is, the Lady Serli Ubael the Younger. I cast my five votes and the four Hirnen votes. Lord Firith?”

Orsin Firith stands, “Yes M’lord, I cast my nine votes for Serli Ubael the Younger.

Prince Korwyn, stands, “NO. Prince Brandis. Prince Brandis, or none. My votes for the Prince.”

Balim moved past him quickly without further comment.

“Sir Æomund, the Lady Cheselyne has given you her four votes. Where do your five votes go?”

The knight stood in the benches, woolen hat in his hand.

“These are troubled times we find ourselves in my lords and ladies. It appears that the course of the kingdom is being decided by this one family. As the Serekela is here in witness I say; Lord Firith. Ablest candidate for the good of the realm. Setting aside the will, wealth, and power of one family, the best for the kingdom. Though I vote alone I stand by my word and my heart and vote my five votes to Orsin Firith, let his ranking stand higher than a kinslayer at least. Though it will not win him a crown.”

Lord Firith looked at the knight, as did others in the room. Some, Prince Korwyn especially, would not look at him too kindly in the future due to his words.

The Baron of Kobe spoke, “I appreciate the words of this honorable knight, and know he speaks as honesty bids him, but I reject his votes and place them on Serli Ubael the Younger.”

Balim’s voice rang out, “Let it be 23 to Lady Serli and 4 for Prince Brandis.”

Balim turned and kneels to Lady Serli, as did Lord Firith.

“All hail Serli Elendsa, Countess of Olokand!”

The cry echoes through the chamber, passing almost all of the lips present.

The lady then stood and surveyed the room, “I accept the vote, but I will not be just Countess. If it is to be done, I shall be Queen. I shall accept the name of Elendsa, I accept your homage, and I shall take the name Chelebin. Chelebin IV!”

All present knelt before her. Sir Æomund stood in the benches and to him it seemed an eternity and that he stood alone. The eyes of Serli Ubael no longer looked at him, but those of Queen Chelebin IV who nodded to him as he bent his knee.

Later that morning Sir Prehil finds Sir Æomund in the gallery of the Lady of Paladins. He is stripped to the waist and sweating. Petros looking worse for wear panting by the training dummies.

“Æomund! I have been looking for you. Well that was edifying, Cousin Serli took the bait.”

“You mean removing yourself from the crown?”

“I didn’t want it, they didn’t want it. My father is now going to be Earl of Osel. He sold those nine votes pretty effectively. Of course Tarkin Hirnen is going to be chancellor again.”

“Aren’t we getting ahead of the Council here a bit?”

“What council? It just became irrelevant, we have an Elendsa clan head and a new Queen. Meden is undone. I had no idea Balim knew about Meden, he let Meden do whatever he wanted, but it didn’t matter. Meanwhile he was working in the background. I knew they called him the Spider Earl now I know why. I like the idea of cousin Serli being queen. The whole magic thing is probably just a rumor.”

“Magic thing?”

“Its just a rumor, I don’t think it true. They caught her with some kind of owl.”

Sir Æomund stood sweating, his emotions were not clear on how all of this unfolded but the scholarly mind begged for order. “This is all a result of the death of the Harabors?”

“You know that’s a really good question.”

“That seems a thin thread for the Spider to hang his hat.”

“He might have been planning that before.”

“To go so far as to kill the queen as well?”

“No no. They were thick as thieves. I’m sure this was all after the queen’s death. Although it’s entirely possible that he came up with his candidate before the queen’s death. Now I need to bend the knee to my cousin. Well I guess I already have. I need an ale. Get dressed or oil down, which ever and give your poor squire a break.”

The two made their way to the Stout Fox to report to Lord Ewen on the proceedings and to prepare to join the cavalcade soon to depart for Tashal.
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