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The Making of A Queen

 
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Brynhilde
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PostPosted: Mon Jun 13, 2016 2:05 pm    Post subject: The Making of A Queen Reply with quote

December 24th, M 1615

So here she was.

The Innocence, the finest ship in the Frankish navy, had been chosen to bear the new Queen of Carib to her new homeland. After three weeks of travel by road from the capital of Pomerania, there had only been a delay of two days before Brynhilde took ship to continue on her journey. If they had a good wind, they would reach the coast of Carib within two weeks, and a further three weeks of travel would see her delivered safely to her new husband.

The pale-haired queen sighed, watching the port of Martel shrink away from them as The Innocence left the harbor. It had been ... an interesting couple of months.

Just two months ago, she had been the princess of Edessa, next in line to the throne despite her stepmother's schemes. But because of those schemes, the High King had come to their country, and had solved the problem of the succession by making her a queen in her own right, albeit queen of a land far from the one in which she had been born. She had traveled with him and his retinue back to Pomerania, where she had been married by proxy to the aged and ailing King Peter of Carib, and hailed as the new Queen of Carib by messengers sent to every country on the continent.

It had been a strange ceremony. Rushed, too; no one had wanted to risk Lotharingia managing to make a match of their own with Peter in the time it would take to arrange a proper ceremony. So Brynhilde had been married in the eyes of the Goddess by the Dalai himself, with the High King's son, Maksim, standing in as proxy for her elderly bridegroom. The ring she now wore on her left hand felt heavy, cumbersome, unwelcome. It wasn't the ring of the man she wanted to marry, but patience would bring her that reward.

She smiled as she thought of that reward. Lord Henry Greville, the High King's own nephew, who had befriended her in Edessa before either of them had even guessed at King Philippe's plans to resolves the succession crisis there. They had become friends, good friends, over the weeks it had taken to travel back to Pomerania, and after a little prodding from his family - his delicate little sister, in particular - he had confessed to her that he might be falling in love with her. Brynhilde remembered the swelling rise in her heart when he had said those words, the tenderness that she had never truly considered to be a part of herself. She had known in that instant that Harry's feelings were not one-sided, and she had told him as much. All they had shared were words, and yet that mutual confession had made the marriage ceremony and the weeks that had followed that much more painful for her.

It had been decided that she would be escorted to the Frankish coast by the King of Francia himself, since he was visiting Pomerania anyway. And so Brynhilde had spent two weeks on the sidelines, envious of the strong family bonds that were so evident among these two royal families joined by marriage. Envious, too, of the way the Pomeran royal family closed ranks about Harry and Elspeth, deeply protective of them whenever there was even a hint of unpleasantness. And why should they not, she reflected. Harry was a fine man, and would make a fine king when he realized he was capable of it, and Elspeth ... there was something about Elspeth that was very easy to love. Brynhilde's smile softened as she recalled the promise made to her by the woman who would be her sister someday. I will make you a wedding dress that will reflect who you are, not who you should seem to be.

Yes, she had made good friends in Pomerania, and she had left behind her a man who held her heart in his hands for safekeeping during the long, lonely months ahead of them. Left him behind to go and join a man who was more than four times her age, a man she had married, a man who was so ill-suited to being king that he had all but allowed his country to divide and fall apart. It wasn't the marriage she was afraid of; it was assuming authority over disparate barons and horse lords, none of whom would be inclined to accept her, that tormented her dreams.

But the deed was done, and her course was set. Brynhilde of Edessa was no more. Raising her face to the wind that swept the sea, Brynhilde of Carib set her shoulders and looked to the future.
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Last edited by Brynhilde on Wed Aug 03, 2016 12:43 pm; edited 1 time in total
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PostPosted: Mon Jun 20, 2016 4:11 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

To Lord Henry Greville, Earl of Ayleth, this day the 19th of January in the year of the Goddess 1616


Dearest friend,

We have arrived safely in Carib, though the journey was longer than I could have wished for. Twenty days at sea when I am far better suited to land did not allow me much time to contemplate what I am walking into. Yet the ship docked safely, and we have taken rooms here in Seanport, to recoup our strength and obtain supplies for the journey north.

It is a strange place. The port is a bustling sort of place, filled with merchants and traders, the harbor swimming with ships from every country in Meringia and few from lands I have never even heard of. Yet just beyond the walls, there is nothing but emptiness. A wide, vast plain of swaying grasses and gently rolling hills that reminds me of the Plain in Edessa. Do you remember it? The steppe that raised me seems to have a sister here in Carib, though the winds are not cold.

Indeed, this land is warm, even now in the grip of winter, and I am told that the heat increases as summer bears down upon it. I shall never need to wear furs again. Even my armor, simple leather and nothing more, seems to constrict me in this unaccustomed warmth. Gerda jokes that we should travel in nothing but our small things, or risk seeming weak by fainting in the heat. The heat is not so bad, closer to the warmth of the autumns I am accustomed to. I find it strange to think that there will be no snow, no chill winds. The worst I can expect are violent thunderstorms, and yet even those remain warm in the hardest heat of the summer. But it is not the weather that concerns me.

Out there on the plains of Machaire Mor, the horse lords travel, their journey never-ending. Though there have been no barons here to greet me in Seanport, the people here know that I am their queen. They have been welcoming, truly friendly to the stranger come to rule them. Tomorrow, I am to ride out of the port and meet with the Archon of the horse lords, a man I am told who is eager to renew the ages old alliance between his people and the people oppressed by the northern barons. I do not know what I shall do. I am only one woman, and my only strength is in battle. Will he respect that in me, or will he treat me with scorn, as others have in the past?

I am deeply afraid, Harry. I am a stranger in a strange land, and what little I have managed to learn about the customs and history of this place do not seem to have fitted me well for the political maneuvering I shall have to perform. There is one blessing from those lessons we began to share in Berengaria - I have learned the language of this land, and I find it to be far more musical than it was in classrooms, with tutors. It has a melodious sound that is pleasing to the ear, far easier to settle into when spoken among native speakers. You need not fear the language; embrace it, and the people here will embrace you for taking the trouble to learn it.

The sun is setting now, and bringing with it the chill of the night. I welcome that chill, but not to cool my body. It reminds me of the home I have left behind me, of my heart held safe in trusted hands. I long for the day you will set foot in this strange land and allow me to show you the warmth of the people who will welcome you. It is a dear dream, and keeps my fear from overwhelming me.

May the arms of the Goddess keep you.

Your friend,
Brynhilde

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PostPosted: Sat Jul 02, 2016 6:16 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

To Lord Henry Greville, Earl of Ayleth, this day the 21st of February in the year of the Goddess 1616


Dearest friend,

There is so much to tell, I hardly know where to begin. This new land of mine is no longer so divided as it was when I first arrived, and though my actions were hardly of a political nature, I must confess to feeling proud that I have accomplished this without recourse to advisors or diplomats.

I have been accepted and proclaimed Queen by the Archon and his horse lords. Do you recall how concerned the politicians were that the Archon would never accept a woman on the throne? It was with that thought foremost in my mind that I entered those negotiations, and yet Domnall McTeer far exceeded my hopes for a progressive leader. His personal feelings lean more toward the reconciliation of north and south under one leader, and he truly didn't mind if that leader was female for the time being. That said, the other leaders of the tribes within the Horse Lords required a little more persuading. I daresay having their chosen champion defeated by a woman on foot was galling to many of them, but they chose to abide by their own laws. They have thrown the weight of their support behind me, and indeed, they chose to escort me to the borderland between Machaire Mor, their own lands, and Cluaine Doire, the northlands of Carib.

There is a ruined city on that border, a city that bears the name of both lands - Cluaine Mor. It fascinates me, for it is a clear sign that once Carib was ruled by consent with both it's peoples in accord with the kings who made their home there. There are two great entrances to the city of Cluaine Mor ... the entrance from Machaire Mor, with wide streets made for the passage of horses; and the entrance from Cluaine Doire, like the great gates into Berengaria. The city is a mingling of the cultures that came together to create Carib. I intend to rebuild it, and would hope to make it our home, in time.

There was no official escort awaiting me when we arrived on that border. It is a dangerous snub; the barons who hold power here seem to believe that they cannot be harmed by my arrival. Yet those men who tried so hard to offend and insult seem to have no control over their own grown children, who arrived within a day of my entering Cluaine Doire to escort me to my destination themselves. They do not have the authority of their fathers, and yet they seem to have a greater love for the land in which they live, and the people they will someday be responsible for. I find it encouraging, though my meeting with their parents was not the confident occasion I could have hoped for.

Still, let them snub me. Let them mock me where I think I cannot hear them. I have the support of the Horse Lords, and of my own people who have accompanied me. I have already begun to make my move here. In just a few weeks, there will be a competent royal standing army, and I will have the ability to seize back some of the power stolen from the crown by those greedy men. I intend to make use of it, and I have the support of King Peter with which to do it.

It was a strange day, the day of the coronation and consummation. By his own order, Peter was not present when I was crowned and acclaimed, nor did he join the feasting that followed. Indeed, I did not meet my husband until that night, when I was escorted to his chamber within the monastery where he makes his home.

He is a frail man, and very much feels his age, gripped with guilt over the inaction that has allowed his country to fall so very far from his own hands. He appointed me his Regent, and has named me as his heir, both on the night when he accepted me as his wife. It would appear that he, like your uncle, has been quietly planning this accession for some time. For all his failings, though, he is a good man at heart; he wept when he told me his story. The youngest of five brothers, he never expected to rule; indeed, he had begun his novitiate in the Church when the plague took his entire family from him. He deeply regrets that his devotion to the Goddess blinded him to the greed of his barons until it was too late, but I can set things right. Perhaps he will even see a little of that power returned to him before he leaves us.

I must confess to liking this old man I am married to. Though his age makes him infirm, his mind is still keen, and he has plenty of advice for me when it comes to dealing with the recalcitrant barons. He seems to believe in me; in what I represent, anyway. He believes in you, too. He has been following the reports of you, since long before any of this was set in motion. I believe he genuinely regrets that he will never meet you, or your sister. Do not be surprised if he begins to write to you. He does not have much time left, but what time he has, he intends to use to the best of his ability.

I shall try to write again in a more timely fashion, for I shall surely have the time in which to do so now that I am no longer traveling every day to my destination. Tell me all the news from your home and mine; about your sister, and your friend, and whether the High King gave his permission for the marriage you were so hoping for in your last missive. When I read your letters, it is as though you are here with me, and for that respite, I am truly thankful.

May the arms of the Goddess keep you.

Your loving friend,
Brynhilde

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PostPosted: Sat Jul 02, 2016 8:26 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

To Lord Henry Greville, Earl of Ayleth, this day the tenth of March in the year of the Goddess 1616


Dearest friend,

I am so pleased with your news. To know that Felipe is to marry for love, to a friend your sister is so very fond of ... it is truly amazing. We shall send our felicitations and a gift when the time comes. Please, reassure Elspeth that she is not losing a friend. Though marriage may change some people, I witnessed enough when I was in Berengaria to know that the ties of friendship between Jane and herself are deep and lasting. Not even physical distance will change that.

I have come to a decision. I have decided that I deeply dislike politics. It is all deception and miscommunication, and when you attempt to do something in a straightforward manner, some
politician always manages to outmaneuver you by trickery. I hope you have a better grasp of it, for I surely do not.

The barons here are a concern. Three in particular - Embarr, Nevin, and Ualtar - seem to hold the majority of power in Carib, and they exercise it with ruthless cruelty. The people are kept poor, close to starvation, in fear for their lives, purely to line the pockets of these greedy men who care nothing for the natural authority I should hold over them. The other barons will do as they do, and so, I must begin to move against them if I can.

With Peter's support, I have dismissed the Lotharingian ambassador and closed our border with them. Thankfully, the Archon has sent one of the tribes of the horse lords here to Gharn, to give me their visible support as well. The presence of leather-clad warriors in the reception rooms does instill a certain respect in those who deign to be present for council meetings. The absence of those barons, the men I have already named, is another snub, but I believe they are beginning to realize that I am not to be trifled with. After all, their own sons have been present at every council I have held thus far, and they have given me their allegiance willingly. I believe that only Ailan, Embarr's son, does so out of a true wish to improve the land, and not simply ambition, but as things stand, I must take the help offered and not mind the reasons behind it.

After only two weeks, I have an army of my own. The people of Tulach Dun, the current capital, flocked to join my banner, and they seem to be enjoying the training that the Edessans and Horse Lords are giving them. Your uncle has promised us a shipment of good boots and tunics, and I have assurances from Pasai that weapons and armor are on their way to us. I fear they will be needed, for it seems that Barons Embarr, Nevin, and Ualtar are raising their own banners with the intention of rebelling against my rule. Against Peter's rule. He is frightened, Harry. He is an old man with barely a fingertip on power, and he truly fears what will happen should the barons win this war they seem determined to wage against us. I must be strong for him, but I, too, am frightened. What will they do to me, should I face them and lose?

Yet I have reason to be confident in my position. With assistance from certain of the barons - those who are loyal to the crown despite everything - we have seized control of the food supply, and are in the process of distributing it fairly among the people. Their loyalty to the crown, to Peter, and to me, at least, is assured. We have fed them, we are going to protect them. I will not let the greed of one small group of men deter me from being a true queen to these struggling people.

But, Harry, in the darkness of the night, I lie awake in fear. Though I must seem confident before my people, in truth my grip upon this throne is tenuous at best. Peter has been tolerated for his lack of action, his unwillingness to involve himself in the politics of the country. I am not tolerated; indeed, the noble class may well come to hate me, and loath as I am to admit it, I need their support if I am to hold this country together. I fear the reprisals should a battle go against me - I am a stranger in this land, though I am Queen, and no queen taken in battle has ever been treated gently. But I must be strong, and I must have faith that the Goddess would not have placed me here if I were not capable of coming through this with success.

I shall write again soon, and tell you in detail of the report you will no doubt have heard by that time of the developments here. Pray for me, my dearest friend. I shall need every prayer that you can spare in the days and weeks to come.

May the arms of the Goddess keep you.

Your loving friend,
Brynhilde

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If you would fight me, remember this - I am the focus of all my ancestors gone before me. Though you cannot see them, I do not stand alone.
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PostPosted: Mon Jul 04, 2016 9:12 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

To Lord Henry Greville, Earl of Ayleth, this day the 20th of March in the year of the Goddess 1616


Dearest friend,

So much has happened that I hardly know where to begin. Yet I know I must begin with offering my sincere felicitations to your cousin and your friend on the occasion of their marriage. I wish them all the happiness in the world, and the luck with which to wield it, and envy them their love. I continue to hold onto that dream we share for the future; a future that is a little closer now than it was a while before.

The situation has come to a head here in Gharn. There have been two attempts on my life. I am unharmed, I promise you. The first attempt was an assassin who did not seem to realize that I am more than capable of defending both myself and Peter should the need arise. Indeed, it was Peter's own insistence that my bed be moved into his apartments that saved his life. Had I not been there, I have no doubt that he would now be dead, and my claim, however legal, disputed by a faction of the court.

The second attempt was equally unsuccessful, though I cannot claim any role in that. Baron Embarr offered me a glass poured by his own hand and I, like a fool, was about to take it when his second son, Oisin, removed it from my hand and drank it down before his father's eyes. Harry, it was terrible to behold. He died before my eyes, purple and gasping for breath, his own actions proof of his father's duplicity and attempted regicide. Between that action, and the testimony of the assassin, we have proof enough to arrest all three of those barons, though only Embarr is in our custody. The others have fled to raise their armies and attempt a forceful rebellion against this crown.

The court has been polarized; those barons who had yet to choose their side have declared for the crown, though I believe it is purely because they simply cannot conceive of a world ruled by men who will willingly commit regicide for their own ambitions. Yet all this has come about because a man is dead. A man gave his life in place of my own; not to protect the crown, nor to wreak revenge against his father, but to save my life. His last moments will haunt me to the end of my days; the look in Embarr's eyes as he realized that his thirst for power had killed his most loved son; the horror in Ailan's eyes as he stepped up to arrest his own father on the dying accusation of his younger brother.

Peter has finally taken a hand, declaring those fleeing barons stripped of their land and titles, yet our army is not yet solely capable of enforcing that proclamation. Ualtar and Nevin are marching on Tulach Dun with their armies conjoined, and we here are scrambling to mount a defense that will cover both the capital and the monastery here at Gharn. Ailan has ridden himself to notify the Archon and beg his aid; Bradan, the baron of Tulach Dun, has begun to clear the ways approaching the city to make our battle easier to orchestrate.

We will be joined in arms within days, Harry. I am not afraid. I know battle, and I know the Goddess has other plans for me. She would not set me here without some plan for my survival, without some reward for my success. That reward, my Harry, is the promise of a lifetime with you. I have made many mistakes since I have come here, but I am certain that you will keep us from needing to fight our own people ever again. I miss you, my dear friend, and I long to see you again. You are always in my prayers.

May the arms of the Goddess keep you.

Your loving friend,
Brynhilde

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If you would fight me, remember this - I am the focus of all my ancestors gone before me. Though you cannot see them, I do not stand alone.
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PostPosted: Tue Jul 05, 2016 9:46 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

To Lord Henry Greville, Earl of Ayleth, this day the 31st of March in the year of the Goddess 1616


Dearest friend,

The battle is won. We are victorious.

The baronial armies met with our own royal army on the plain outside Tulach Dun on the morning of the twenty-ninth day of this month. It was clear from their approach that they believed themselves to already be the victors. Their lines were sloppy, undisciplined; their captains gave out more punishment than reward. The evening they camped on the plain, they suffered many desertions - men, who had been forced from their homes into this unlawful fight and who did not wish to set themselves against the crown, abandoned them in droves, seeking refuge within the city for the duration of the battle. My advisors told me not to let them in, but I ignored that advice. To my cost, it must be admitted, yet my mistake does not seem to have been held against me.

We met in battle that morning - twelve hundred foot soldiers and knights in their ranks, and in our own, more than three thousand. That was before the Horse Lords arrived, for the Archon had amassed the fighting force of his own people to defend their King and his Queen. It was no battle at all, truth be told. I did not even have cause to bloody my blade, though I was ready for the fight. As the Horse Lords encircled them, much of the baronial army threw down their weapons and surrendered. Indeed, they took their own leaders into custody and turned them over to us. Some of those that had taken refuge within the city chose to use their sanctuary to attack the innocent citizenry; some attempted to set light to the grain storage. Thankfully, the people of Tulach Dun are of uncommon courage; they took back control before it truly left their hands, meting out justice of their own before the reports ever came to us of the events within the city.

The common men who were enlisted by their barons, Peter has pardoned, sending them home with the instruction never to raise arms against the crown again, and I believe they will be true to his word. Despite his failing health and poor judgment over the years, these people love their King, and I am fortunate that love has been given to me, also. The nobles who sided against me will be fined heavily, their military rights rescinded until such time as they may prove themselves loyal. But those three barons who chose to attack us, to attack
me ... their fate is not one any of their rank would wish to see emulated again.

Peter insisted upon rising from his bed to witness the justice we had decided upon. There was no trial, for their guilt was plain to see, and Peter truly believed that swift action would prevent any repeat of these past months from occurring. There he sat, enthroned in Tulach Dun for the first time in decades, the crown heavy on his head. Yet he spoke with a firm voice, declaring their sins against the Goddess and the crown for the entire court to hear. To their credit, not one of the triad of traitors recanted his actions or begged for mercy. They stood true to their convictions to the end. Though I dislike their actions, I admire them for that constancy, that recognition that they had brought these consequences upon themselves.

They were brought to their knees in the plaza before the palace, where common and noble alike had gathered to witness the first execution performed in Carib for more than a hundred years. I shall never forget the shock and awe I felt from them when the executioner's blade was put into my hand. They did not seem to understand at first that
I was the executioner. Yet this is the way I was taught. The man who passes the sentence should perform the punishment, at least in cases such as this. There are few now who will object to my right to rule, and those who did are displayed, by custom, over the gate into the city.

The barons' sons, those men who gave us their allegiance against their fathers' wishes, have been invested with their inheritance. Ailan, Dara, and Conn ... these are now my most loyal barons, and the others have fallen in behind them. I do not doubt there is not a man among them who wishes to be beheaded by his queen in such a public place. I have earned the fear of the nobility, along with the love of the people. I can only hope that the nobility will love
you, my Harry, for I cannot foresee a time when they might feel that way about me.

Peter's health is beginning to fail. He will never again leave his bed, and indeed, he believes himself to be dying. The Temple is overflowing with prayers and hopes for him, and for the future of the realm, and I fear that Lotharingia may yet attempt an invasion upon the announcement of Peter's death.

Be ready, my Harry. Your time is coming.

May the arms of the Goddess keep you.

Your loving friend,
Brynhilde

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PostPosted: Tue Jul 05, 2016 4:24 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

To Lord Henry Greville, Earl of Ayleth, this day the seventh of April in the year of the Goddess 1616


My dearest friend,

The time has come. Reports have been sent to each country in Meringia, and by now I am sure you will have heard of the death of Peter of Carib. The Dalai will announce it when he receives his message, and I am certain that he will announce our betrothal in the same breath. Lotharingia has tested our border and lost. The Archon has come to court, to pay his respects to a king he never lost faith in, despite Peter's self-confessed failings.

Yet, despite the presence of these friends I have made, I am alone.

The country mourns, for they loved their king deeply. Yet they also rejoice, for - in some small way - they love their queen, too. They have faith that I will protect them, that I will keep them strong. But who is here to protect me? Who will keep me strong in such times?

I mourn, too. He was a good man, for all his mistakes. He was blind to the needs of his people, but it was not truly his fault. His life was already devoted to the Goddess when She called him to rule; he was never taught to be a king, and those who should have taught him stole his power instead. The guilt he felt for his blindness was the greatest burden I have ever seen a man hold to himself. No words could relieve the weight, and indeed, I do not believe he wanted that weight lessened. He saw my arrival as the beginning of his end. He stayed only long enough to see me grasp the power that should have been his and wield it the way I was taught. He was gentle and kind, and not made for the life he was forced to lead. I can only hope the Goddess is kind, and gives him the peace he has yearned for all these long years of his life.

And now I sit here, in these royal apartments that I shall soon leave. The monastery where Peter spent his last days has closed their doors to me, for without the king in residence, there is no reason for them to allow a woman within their walls. Tulach Dun, where I now sit, seems hollow and isolated. It has not been a center of power for many decades, and it will not remain a seat of government for long. The reconstruction of Cluaine Mor has been completed; the court is preparing to move there, along with the council and the government, to once again embrace the duality of nature that is Carib. Horse lords and barons shall mingle once more. I should feel pleasure, pride, in this achievement. Yet I feel empty and alone, and yes, I am afraid.

I am afraid to douse the candles and seek sleep in this hollow place, afraid of the dreams that will come, the accusations of a dead man who cannot have been entirely pleased with the way I have run roughshod over his entitlements. Though I have friends here, none can truly understand this sense of loss, this fear that the future I have so hoped for will not come to pass. I will be afraid every moment until you join me here, my love. Yes, I call you my love openly now. That is one thing I need not fear. Every soul knows I must take a new husband, and soon they will know that the husband I long for is Henry Greville, of the House Hasperan.

The funeral will be held tomorrow, and I must stand tall and proud before so many who will be grieving for the loss of a man who has been the father of their country for two generations. As we commit him to the flames, they will look to me, yet I know they are uneasy to accept a woman in power. It is not their way, and I do not mean to force it upon them. You will be their King, as you are my lord, and I shall not expect them to look to me ever again.

I wish you were here with me, my Harry. I need your counsel, your calm voice. I wish you could lie with me here in the darkness, and keep my demons at bay with your presence. I know I must wait, that it will be two long months before you set foot in Carib, for the journey is long, and you may indeed have your sister to care for along the way.

Give Elspeth my love; share with her my hope that you and she will come to love this land, as I have done. Tell her to leave her woolen undergarments at home, for she will not need them. The warmth of the sun will give her skin color, I am certain. Yet I am assuming she will come with you; indeed, I am assuming that
you will come. Until I am told of our betrothal by my own ministers, I must live with the fear that the decision has been unmade.

It paralyzes me to think I might never see you again. When we parted, I had thought myself in love with you. Yet now I know that love was but a drop in the ocean when set beside the swelling of my heart when I think of you now. I love you, my Harry. Come to me. Please.

By the hand of one who loves you,
Brynhilde

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If you would fight me, remember this - I am the focus of all my ancestors gone before me. Though you cannot see them, I do not stand alone.
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Brynhilde
Young Wyrm
Young Wyrm


Joined: 06 Jul 2015
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PostPosted: Wed Aug 03, 2016 12:16 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

May 19th, 1616

For one hundred years, the great city of Cluaine Mor had stood empty, left to crumble as a testament to the way the dual country of Carib had fallen apart. As the Horse Lords were neglected by the monarchy and ceded from authority, the city that had once stood as proof of the agreement between north and south was abandoned. Yet it was never truly forgotten, nor what it had stood for.

Queen Brynhilde, newly arrived and instated with the powers her aged husband, King Peter, had gifted her, had made the restoration of Cluaine Mor one of her first priorities, disliking the way the government of the country had been moved into the corrupt north of the kingdom. As the rubble and detritus of a century of neglect were swept away, the people began to return. Not just from the southlands where the Horse Lords held sway, but from the north, too; people whose grandparents had told them tales of the great city where north and south dwelt in harmony. In the wake of King Peter's death, that tragic loss had spurred the newly elected council to acquiesce to their young Queen's demands and return the government of the land to Cluaine Mor, fulfilling the promise made in the old treaty that the monarch would honor the traditions of both sides of the country she ruled.

For the first time in one hundred years, Cluaine Mor thrived. Life returned to its streets, rich and poor alike expending their effort, their energy, to revitalize the city that straddled the border between the barons' northlands and the horse lords' to the south. They worked together to clear the greenery from the wide streets, to shore up walls that threatened to crumble, to make the great city a place where they could be proud to live once again, all under the rule of the young warrior queen that had taken the land by the scruff of the neck and shaken it until they all found a way to work together again. All they awaited now was the arrival of their new King - a young man of the right bloodline, chosen for them by the High King of Pomerania himself, who apparently held a gentler temperament than the young Queen they had accepted just months before.

Though the nobles were rightly wary of Brynhilde after witnessing her personal execution of three of their number, she had been embraced by the Archon of the Horse Lords and his people, and though her seizing of the rightful power of the crown had been a little rough and definitely lacking in diplomacy, the common people on both sides had taken her to their hearts. Her presence was welcomed on the streets of the renewed city, her name declared with true honor by the people she had taken for her own.

Yet she was still very isolated on her throne, a lone Queen Regnant in a world where women were not generally considered capable of ruling alone. It was only her Edessan heritage that had saved her from being toppled from power the moment Peter had died; the understanding that Edessan women were a breed apart, and that she might well have been Queen of Edessa, were it not for her step-mother's interference. The barons accepted her rule only because they knew a King was coming to them; the Horse Lords protected her right to rule because she had proven her strength. For the first time in more than two centuries, the ruling council was made up of both barons and horse lords, men from both sides of the old border between the lands that made up Carib coming together to advise their young Queen and learn how to govern their land together.

It made for an interesting juxtaposition in the grand court rooms of the restored palace - the barons and their ladies in their finery, and the horse lords with their own women in leathers and riding wear. And above them all, their Queen in mourning, who eschewed the rich gowns of the ladies and the rough leathers of the horse lords alike. She dressed in a manner that was entirely her own, in trews and fine bodices and always armed, adding to the growing legend of her state among the people. More used to the informality of the Edessan court, her manner of speaking to each and every one of the men and women who milled about her in their power plays was at once strange and endearing. The Archon of the Horse Lords appreciated it more than the barons, certainly, but even they were drawn away from outright hostility by the formal informality their Queen encouraged.

It was on a day not long after the court had moved to Cluaine Mor, when the air was filled with speculation over the imminent arrival of the new King known to have taken ship not more than a week before, that fresh news arrived. The Archon, Domnall MacTeer, and the new chancellor, Baron Bradan, met with the messenger personally, as had become the custom, before making their advance into the royal reception room. Their faces were solemn, drawn with concern and perhaps a little grief, drawing the excitable chatter of the courtly crowd to a dull murmur in their wake.

Sat comfortably upon her throne as she talked with those who might one day become friends, Brynhilde was unaware of their approach until she felt their presence close by. Raising her eyes, she looked on her chief advisors, her closest allies, and she felt her throat tighten at the darkness in their eyes.

"Archon, Lord Bradan," she greeted them as they bowed to her, each in his own way, "what news do you bring?"

Bradan glanced at Domnall, unwilling to be the one to speak. Though he was an older man of the court, with many years of experience, he was untried when it came to serving a young monarch, be they King or Queen. This news was not something he wished to break to her before the court, and yet he knew they did not have a choice. It was news that would spread fast.

The Archon drew in a slow breath, his expression betraying his impatience with the older baron at his side.

"My queen," he said, his gravelly voice low with respect, "a messenger has arrived with news from Edessa."

News from Edessa. Brynhilde's face paled. There was only one thing that could be contained within that message, but knowing what it was in advance did not make it any easier to accept. She sat straighter on the throne, glancing between the two men as she struggled to keep her composure.

"And what did he have to say?" she asked softly.

"My queen ..." Bradan stepped forward, wishing he could reach out to comfort her as he would one of his own daughters. "It is our deepest regret to inform you that King Sigmund of Edessa has been taken to the embrace of the Goddess."

Every eye turned to the throne; every eye saw their Queen sway where she sat, as though some heavy blow had been laid upon her by an unseen hand. Those closest to the throne reported later on the sheen in her eyes, the way her hands gripped the carven arms of the throne tightly as she paused before speaking. The sudden thrust of this grief upon a girl who had already lost a husband only weeks before was pitied by all, even if they felt no real affection for her. It was a harsh blow.

"My father is dead." To her credit, Brynhilde's voice did not waver as she made the message clear for all ears. "And my brother?"

Archon Domnall inclined his head to her. "The new king, Sigfried, has been crowned and anointed," he told her calmly. "Your brother has taken his place as King of Edessa. When the messenger left Ede, it was with the knowledge that your brother, the King, intended to write to you as soon as he was able."

Brynhilde nodded slowly, absorbing the information. The crown that should have been hers now rested upon her brother's head. The stepmother who had fought so hard to keep her power now was the sole influence over that brother. Her father ... her good, kind father, who had loved her so well ... was dead.

"Thank you," she said quietly, acknowledging the difficulty they must have felt in relaying this news before all the court. Rising to her feet, she drew in a deep breath. "If you would all excuse me ... please continue."

She could feel their eyes on her as she walked from the dais, as Bradan and Domnall chose to escort her from the reception room at her back, grateful for their presence to keep her strong. Yet they left when she asked them to - the older baron daring to touch her hand in silent sympathy, the Archon holding her gaze with the fierce certainty that she was not as alone as she seemed.

Yet she was alone. There were no arms to hold her as she fell to her bed, weeping violent tears for the loss of her father. There was no beloved voice to draw her out of her misery. The only person that might have been able to console her was still weeks away, upon the sea. Henry might not even know that she was bereaved twice over until he set foot here in Carib. How could she bear it? The silence was too much. Even Gerda, her dearly loved friend who had refused to return to Edessa, could not console the young Queen as she wrestled with her grief, shut away behind closed doors where no one could see her pain.

For when she emerged, it was with dry eyes and a calm disposition, a strange numbness fallen over her that the court could not help but remark upon. She was barely more than a child, a stranger in a strange land, a Queen newly widowed, and a daughter newly orphaned. All thoughts turned to the ship that was rounding the southern trade routes, willing it to find fast winds and favorable tides. The fierce warrior was far preferable to this silent waif that did not smile or laugh.

They needed their King.
_________________
If you would fight me, remember this - I am the focus of all my ancestors gone before me. Though you cannot see them, I do not stand alone.
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Henry Greville
King of Carib
Wyrmling
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Joined: 22 Mar 2015
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Can Be Found: The capital city of Cluaine Mor
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PostPosted: Wed Aug 03, 2016 3:25 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

To Queen Brynhilde Sofie of Carib, this the 23rd day of April in the Year of the Goddess 1616

My Dearest Bryn,

My apologies in advance, for this will be brief, as I am on my way to Martel, where I will board a ship to Seanport.

It is with the greatest sympathy that I received your letter. I am sure King Peter will be missed by his people, and I am sure your presence gave him great comfort in his final days.

I must admit that I am still a trifle unsure regarding my ability to fulfill the responsibilities set before me, but I promise to do my best. So many people are counting on me and there is so much at stake, I can do no less.

I wish I could be there to comfort and console you, but trust that I am on my way. There is nothing in this world that could keep me from your side. I have missed you greatly these past weeks. Though I have had Elspeth and Thomas for company, it is your face I see in my dreams and your voice I wish to hear once again.

You will be happy to know that Felipe and Jane were recently married, with the King's blessing. It makes my heart happy to know theirs will be a loving union, as will our own.

Elspeth misses your friendship, but she will not join me on this voyage, as I strive to make haste. She will join us later when the sea is calmer, and I can be more certain of her safety. Despite my need for haste, be comforted to know I am not alone on this journey, as Thomas joins me with a small retinue of men.

With any luck, this letter will reach you before I arrive. Take comfort that I will be with you soon, Dear Heart, and we will be together once again and for always. My heart and life are in your hands.

As always with greatest affection, your most trustworthy servant,
Harry
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