previous threads: http://suptg.thisisnotatrueending.com/archive.html?tags=crusader+quest
Thread 5 didn't archive fully: http://archive.4plebs.org/tg/thread/34542810/#q34542810
character sheet: http://pastebin.com/JEE8ZM7H
It is the Year of Our Lord, 1135.
And you are Mathilde, young daughter of Sir Wilhelm of Koblenz, unwed sister of Lord Wilhelm of Ramla.
The cold wind of Palestine cuts across your path, carrying with it an eddy of swirling dust as you looked upon the high walls of Jerusalem. The mantle about your shoulders wafted like the banner of Ramla above your head, setting a shiver down your spine. You can hear the singing of pilgrims, voices raised in prayer as they approached. It made your heart swell, breath catch in your throat to look upon the Holy City with the raised voices imploring to Christ ahead of you.
Before the walls were haggard men and women dressed in rags, hair filthy and matted, down upon their knees in prayer as they whipped themselves with knotted cords. Trails of blood wound down their backs mingling with the filth. The stink of their zealousness gave them a wide berth, but many watched the self-flagellation with an awe that spoke of fear and respect. Few could claim such piousness.
The roads into the city were broad but crowded. Tents were pitched all along it, with the hard worn faces of well traveled pilgrim poking out or resting beside low fires. Some looked to you with curiosity, a fine noble girl a-horse with armed escort attracted all sorts of attention. When a man armed with holy trinkets tried to approach, Bayard set his horse between you, hooves clattering and hand upon sword hilt. The paddler retreated with a bow. Few approached under the single eyed glare of your defender.
"Last time I was here we were wanted men," Bayard said, "Had to hide like rats in a church. But we left feeling like heroes. Wonder what's waiting for us this time."
Maggie rode beside you and Lucia behind. The red haired girl seemed troubled to look upon the walls of the Holy City, and you considered her pinched mouth expression from the corner of your eye. Concern for Hugo, or her own sin from fleeing this city in days past? She had been a novice of the Church of St Anne before giving that up to chase worldly things.
Certainly your own goal was liberating your half-brother. His rashness having lead to a prison cell.
Other armed men were about. Knights of the holy brotherhoods, in white and black and green, but others were noble pilgrims. Perhaps the pious looking for redemption, perhaps adventurers seeking glory in your brother's upcoming campaign. Noble women were with them, finely veiled and courtly Franks in silk, some riding, others hidden behind the curtains of palanquins born by squat and muscular slaves. Some of these noblemen on seeing you smiled, bowed their heads.
It was ever that you attracted the smiles of men, and those smiles had grown wider and more lustful in recent months. You were growing a little taller, your body filling. Truth it left you feeling awkward, your body not feeling your own half the time, but you tried to bear these changes with grace.
The soldiers that guarded you, ten men on foot five to either side, sang a song in Frankish as they marched. Unlike your brothers you had learned the French tongues quickly. It had a cant to it that you enjoyed, and you soon found yourself singing along. Language came easily to you, like music. Maggie had even taught you a little of her native Gaelic. A strange alien tongue that spoke of poetic barbarism.
The road was crowded, but your man Bayard pushed forth - 'Make way for Lady Ramla!' he belted, but it did not clear a path. The river of traffic soon choked your line, and you felt yourself separated by peasants on foot, looking over their heads to your fellow horse born companions.
Suddenly a hand reached out. A grubby common paw that clutched your ankle. You gave a jolt, sitting high in your saddle. The desperate eyes of a common woman staring up at you from beneath a canvas hood, clutching a bundle. Bayard rounded, forced his way to your side.
"Please," the woman lifted up her bundle, "Please help us into the city."
She was one of a million desperate things, camped out and awaiting entry to the great city, looking for some kind of absolution behind its walls. That she looked to you as if you were same kind of saviour made your belly tighten, struck you as queer and unnatural.
"Remove your hand," Bayard said.
> have Bayard remove the woman
> take the offered bundle
It was Mags and Portia, HF. Lucia wasn't taken because she only had a few months of court protocol training, which would've made Matty look bad at the royal court if Lucia fucks up.
> take the offered bundle
Take it and make people see how benevolent is the household of Lord Ramla
"Unhand me!" you kicked by instinct at the hand that grabbed you.
You recoil from the woman, drawing your horse away. The mare gave a loud wicker as it raised its hooves, blowing hot air from its nostrils. Disgust writ your fine features at the filthy rags she offered, that soon gave the loud cries of a common child bawling within. You saw the sign of a red face, eyes shut, a grotesque little creature with boils around its mouth.
Bayard came between you and the pilgrim. He did not strike her, but the size of his horse and force of his entry sent the woman stumbling back into the human river, lost in the similar worn and dirty faces of the common folk. The man-at-arms turned to you, reached out to brush the grime from the hem of your dress with the back of his maille gauntlets. It would leave a stain upon your dress, you had been quite lucky to avoid becoming filthy upon the high dirt roads so far.
Maggie forced her way back to your side, jostling apart the crowd with her horse until she was back at your side, her hand upon your arm.
White haired Portia came upon your other side and the older girls formed a shield against the humanity that pressed around you, Bayard guarding your front. You rode in such formation until the gates of Jerusalem loomed high above you, and you passed beneath its yawning mouth.
If you thought the road had been crowded, the city itself was no less packed. And it shocked you to see such blatant commerce, the selling of religious icons and purported holy relics. Men cried the properties of little powder bags containing the remains of some long gone martyr. Others brandished cloth or naked bone. One even held up a glass jar containing a heart, said that it had belonged to St James and would bring miracles to its owner.Some sold miniatures depicting religious scenes, Jesus in the Garden, or the preaching saints in the cities of the Romans.
Why does everyone want to be ice cold to people who haven't really done anything besides ask a question? The last person we were cold to as Mathilde was deserving of it for undermining our brother's trust and nearly ruining the invasion.
You wondered how they could do such naked profiteering before the sight of the Church of the Holy Sepulchre. In the land that had been home to Christ.
It wasn't just religious icons but more banal commerce, the usual goods of a city. Knives, plates, needles and knick-knacks. Flavoured waters being hawked to thirsty travelers. Advertisers for tailors and barbers, and bathhouse attendants letting you know their buildings were open for business, happy to show you the way.
It was all a rush of sights. You saw a group upon their knees lead in prayer by a young priest, making a blockage for traffic that was bringing around the local men-at-arms to move them along.
"Fucking pilgrims," you heard one say as they forced on some stalling pair of zealots, "Keep moving! Keep moving!"
Portia had your ear, her husky voice right close so that you might hear her above the din. "We should make haste to the Tower of David, present ourselves before the Queen."
You nodded, but your eyes drifted to Maggie. She was sitting up in her saddle, looking around as if searching for something. When she looked back to you she smiled, gave a nod, but her eyes were soon back upon the crowd. This had been her home for some time, you wondered what she was thinking about her return.
You beckoned her close. "What's on your mind?" you asked.
"If you don't have a problem with it," the Irish girl said, "I'd like to stop at St Anne's. Visit some old friends. It's on the way."
> let her go
> keep her with you
>she is our second best friend and we may need her.
Don't second besties let their second besties do as they please, and what would we need her specifically for? We have other servants. Besides, she said it would be on the way, and that she'd see us again.
"Be careful," you say, giving her a slight peck on the check, "And return before sun down."
"Watch yourself, too," Maggie replied, "That places is a den of vipers. Don't let 'em bite you." She winked as she rode away, a jostle to her body as the horse clopped through the harsh traffic and over the uneven streets.
You made your way to the Tower of David, banner set to declare you. A handsome young knight posted to the gate saw your approach and came forward with a bow.
"We had a letter, welcome to Jerusalem my lady," he said, taking your reins and assisting you down from your horse, hand upon your hip. It sent a little thrill through you and he smiled very warmly once you had your feet upon the ground. Bayard swung down from his own horse and was soon between the two of you.
"Watch those hands sir," he said. The knight gave a light scoff for the commoner but still went back a pace.
"And you are?" you asked, brushing back your hair.
"Sir Charles, at your pleasure," he said with a click of his heels and a bow, "In service to Count Elias of Maine."
Bayard gave the knight an even more distasteful look.
"The king's son, here on business with his father," Charles explained, "If you would like I could arrange an introduction."
"Perhaps, eventually," you replied, "But I am expected by the queen, and also on business." You gave the knight a little curtsy. When the rest of your companions were ready, you headed into the Tower, breath caught tight in your throat. The knight watched you walk by, leaning upon the wall, ringed fingers twining through his facial hair with a smile. Bayard walked close in your wake, a long faced shadow that eyed everything with distrust.
Inside the walls of the royal compound you were soon greeted by the sight of Jerusalem's high nobility.
Gold adorned women in fine jewels and finest silk walked with male guardians, some veiled and others not, from young girls to old crones leaning upon the arms of tough young sons. The menfolk were similarly well dressed, wearing openly swords and some in fine armour rather than gentle cloth. It struck you again how different the cut of cloth in this land amongst the native Levantines were compared to your natural Rhineland. It had an eastern flavour wound through more familiar styles, a spice that just further accented its foreignness.
And though your country boasted warriors, still the nobility here seemed a harder people. The men all fit and scarred for fighting, which could erupt at a moments notice. Though there were no armies at the gates of Jerusalem, the way the men walked seemed to be as if they expected one at any time. A people under siege, aware of the danger that surrounded them. Many stopped t greet you, men and women both with polite smiles and fine words, and you were flattered for all the attention. But you reminded yourself that many of these people were not friends to your brother, and would love nothing more than to see him cast down.
A handsome man, tall and powerfully built with a smooth white face and mane of red hair, looked to you from behind a golden chalice. He spoke with some templars, laughed at some joke, but his eyes followed you, his smile long and charmingly boyish. It made your belly warm, the blue eyes of the handsome man following you. And you placed a hand to your stomach to try and settle those butterflies.
Bayard blocked the man from view, mouth twisted sour, tapping fingers upon his leg.
A familiar sight appeared from out a garden arch. A blonde headed woman with an entourage of other women, all exquisitely dressed, all very beautiful, came down the court. No two of them were alike, from cream skinned Franks, to dusky toned Easterners, to a dark girl black as Sabeen from the furthest south. But none were as beautiful as their mistresses. She was finely poised of course, as beautiful as ever, but dressed in mourning black with a lace veil. Sadness hung about her eyes as she approached you, but she managed a smile.
Princess Hodierna, sister to the Queen. You curtseyed low but she drew you up, brushed back a lock of your hair from your face. She was a tall woman, taller than you, and looked down to you, making her golden hair seem near a halo.
"Lady Ramla," she said, and kissed your cheek, "We were hoping you'd visit us soon." She took you by the hands.
"Your highness," you replied, "I am glad to be recieved so warmly."
"Come, you must be hungry," she said, "I shall have food and wine brought to my chambers and we might become more familiar to each other."
> I'd like that
> later perhaps, I must see the queen
Well it does attract the ladies to it before they latch on and have electrifying orgasm that leaves them pic related.
THAT HAD BETTER NOT BE THAT CUNTBAG ASSHAT COCKMONGERING MAIDENHEAD STEALING BASTARD OF FOUR FATHERS
>Yes I think we all want to do awful things to him
Not really. He just sleeps with a lot of women and intimidates people who get more recognition than he does from his father. He seems like a regular guy.
"If I was here on my own time I would enjoy nothing more," you said, "But I am here on the business of my family, and must see your sister as soon as possible."
The princess closed her eyes with a soft little sound, but nodded. When she opened them again she offered you her hand.
"Allow me to escort you to her chambers," she said. You took her offered hand and walked with her, making of you a prideful couple as you strode from the courtyard. Most of your party followed, Bayard close, but you noticed that Portia had slipped away. You were careful not to show your suspicion, turning your eyes back to the tapestry adorned corridor that led to the royal chambers. You gave a quick glance to your royal escort, she was smiling a little behind her veil, before turning your attention back forward.
Her handmaidens made up a long train that Bayard became caught amongst. The rough clothed soldier looked even more a peasant in his drab brown gambeson amongst the beauties, and he shifted his eye around uncomfortably trying to keep from being distracted. It locked on you and stayed on you, even as a pair of Hodierna's women tried to draw him into playful conversation.
The door to the royal chamber was guarded by two men. An old grey beard and a stiff jawed man of middle years.
"Princess," the old soldier leaned forward, "Shall I announce you?"
Hodierna shook her head. "No Theodore, would you wake up little Morphia with your hollering? We'll slip in quietly." Theodore nodded, stepping aside to give you entry.
The handmaidens waited, and Bayard looked from them to you unsure of the correct protocol. He looked as if he wished to follow.
"Wait for me here," you instructed, then you turned to Hodierna's handmaids with a merry look in your eye, "Please do not tease my man too much, he comes from humble birth and is not used to noble company. Least of all the attention of fine women such as yourselves." That brought a wicked look upon some of their faces, and they peered at the soldier like cats at the bird fountain. Bayard gave you an unhappy frown as one pinched the cloth of his gambeson, feeling it between her fingers as if it were Cathayan silk.
You could not suppress your smile, waving to him as you disappeared within.
The royal chamber was low lit, a banked fire in a brick fireplace. There was a chair, and open it a tired, tussle haired woman. Her drawn face glowed in the low fire. She had her breasts bared, and upon one a swaddled child suckled. The babe had a cap of pitch black hair. The woman wore a gentle expresssion as she brushed those locks with long fine fingers.
She looked to you with hooded, drowsy eyes. The queen seemed as if she'd had little rest.
"Hod," she said, then turned eyes to you, "Mathilde. I've been expecting you." She smiled, made cooing noises to her child as she sat up in her chair. "There we go little one," she murmurred as the baby gurgled around her nipple.
Your eyes were caught between the queen and the little babe she nursed.
> cut straight to business
> a baby!
>She looked to you with hooded, drowsy eyes. The queen seemed as if she'd had little rest.
You are the Queen Melly, you got nurses and wetnurses to help you out!
Morphia seems to be a little monster.
Everybody else from Wil to Hugo and even Bayard has, albeit it was during the Trial for most (except Hugo, the badass mofo rode out with Fulk's band and killed some Turk raiders).
>except Hugo, the badass mofo rode out with Fulk's band and killed some Turk raiders
Hugo best badass. Never forget.
"Oh!" you came close to peer at the little thing. A chubby cheeked little girl, black haired and sleepy. She yawned as you parted the cloth that sheltered her. A rosy pink face that seemed scrunched up, with a little button nose. You felt your heart melt and made stupid, girlish noises as you gently stroked the soft flesh of her chin.
"Morphia," Melisende spoke soft so as not to startle her child, "Named for my mother."
You looked up at the queen, blushing and grinning. "She's very cute," you said, "Too cute." You wiggled her little pink fingers. Morphia gave a little gurgle. Yawned again and closed her eyes.
"I nursed Baldwin as well," she said as she covered her breasts, "As my mother nursed all of us. A mother should feed her own child at least half of the time." She gave off Morphia to her sister, who took the little bundle to her chest, singing soft to the little girl. "She's behaving herself now, but the child can scream. Near killed me birthing her. God she's going to be trouble when she's older." Melisende sighed. She reached out and took your hand.
"I'm told you are betrothed to Elinard Bures. You'll have children of your own soon."
That made your heart freeze, joy withering a little. "My brother has talked of a match," you replied diplomatically. You had not thought much on your betrothal to the heir of Galilee, and he had not impressed you much. In appearance or personality.
Melisende smirked a little. "Yes, the boy is not setting any hearts aflame, but he is a decent lad. Dim, but decent. Decent men are in short supply."
"Speaking of decent men," she said, and her expression became sad, "Your brother has created quite the headache for us all."
> ask if Hugo is safe
> apologize on his behalf
She does like him secretly. When they came to Jaffa and Him and Wil went out to fight raiders she prayed for him. She supported him when he had to leave Ramla after he killed that boy, being the only one who understood while he was still sad.
You put a hand to your chest. "I must apologize for how indecently my half-brother has behaved," you said, "And should say he acted completely without my brother's sanction."
"Oh, perhaps it was without his approval but it was very much in Wil's spirit," Melisende replied, not at all sounding upset. In fact she smiled with a fondness you weren't expecting. "The two of them have certainly made a lively entrance to high society. If I do not hang the boy I shall have to grant him some high position, just to keep him out of trouble."
The talk of hanging froze your heart a second time. "Surely there's no need to harm him," you said, keeping your tone smoother than your heart wished, "A foolish boy like him only needs a light spanking to know he's done wrong."
"He abducted my niece, Duchess of Antioch, and delivered her into Saracen hands," Melisende said, "Spin it how you wish but you know how this looks. We must only be grateful the lord of Damascus is our ally, and sees more sense in giving her to me rather than our mutual enemy in the north."
"Will they be here soon?" you asked.
Melisende nodded. "I sent my sister Ioveta to bring him, with an armed escort of course. Templars. They will deliver him and that fool Raymond to us." Melisende gave a weary sigh. "I might just have to call off Raymond's betrothal to Hodierna. I can hardly trust him with my dear sister after all this. Pons has asked I give him over for punishment, claiming the right as his lord and father. What do you think?"
You did not expect her to ask your advice on any matter, and suddenly you realized the scrutiny in Melisende's eyes. She was weighing you, judging you. Trying to get your measure.
> let Raymond be judged in Jerusalem
> let Pons take possession of his son
> let Pons take possession of his son
If Pons is willing to discipline his own son accordingly then we should allow him to do so. Let us not make this a bigger diplomatic clusterfuck than it already is
"If it is in accordance to local law and custom, then let the Father judge the Son. Surely the disappointment beget by Sir Raymond's actions will spur Lord Pons of Tripoli to encourage his son to... exercise discretion in future endeavors."
> let Pons take possession of his son
> let Raymond be judged in Jerusalem
OK, I'll bite.
The former lets Melisende exercise Crown Authority and will allow the Queen to cement her authority with her subjects-- albeit at the cost of losing some support from among her subjects. This is the "Centralize Power" move.
The latter lets Melisende earn some points with the Lord of Tripoli at the risk of coming off as a weak woman to the remaining lords of the land. This would be the "Decentralize Power" move.
I highly recommend letting the Crown judge Raymond so that Melisende will further secure her rule without people constantly testing and disregarding her authority.
So, just catching up on the last thread, but I had a questions.
"I have heard this Ascalon was built in the days of Alexander. A time of great armies far beyond what we can field today."
Why were the armies in Alexander's time larger? Like...surely foraging techniques or logistics or whatever wouldn't *regress*?
It's funny, Wil sent Hugo to Antioch to help Orlando with the whole diplomacy and trade aspect of rulership.
First it was Hugo going "HULK SMASH" on a village bully back in Ramla. Then it escalated to kidnapping a Princess-Duchess, whatever the hell she's supposed to be called.
What's next, Hugo leading a band of sellswords to the Orient, capturing Samarkand and becoming the new Timur the Lame like how Wil became the Lion?
"I understand why your count of Tripoli wishes to take his son in hand," you said, "But I think that unwise. All of Christendom knows Jerusalem is a kingdom of laws. His crime was against your family, against all of Jerusalem. He should be judged in an open court before all of the realm. To do less is to dismiss justice as a necessity of a Christian court."
You leaned forward. "And besides, do you wish to have all of Jerusalem think you are beholden to any one lord? You cannot permit the reins of command to slip from your hands, least of all for a friend. You must remind everyone that its you who rule. No one else. You are Jerusalem."
Melisende had a pleased smile upon her face, fingers winding through strands of her golden hair.
"I like the way you think Mathilde," she said, "I shall judge Raymond's trial personally. And your brother as well. Justice is a fine, cold word, and it is either slave or master to one who wears a crown."
She slowly got up out of her chair, grunting as she rose. The pregnancy had left her with some extra weight, bt you knew he had never been a heavy woman. She walked on sore ankles over to a table, poured two cups of wine and brought them back, handing one to you. She returned to her seat with visible strain on her face, a slight hiss for her back.
"Once I've the time I mean to do a little exercise," she said, "Perhaps a little swordplay again. A queen should not be fat, a woman even less so. Men do not love or respect them, and women like us must always be a paragon of womanhood. In manner and figure. Men are shallow that way." She sipped her wine. "My husband could grow as fat as a hog and none would care, we are not permitted that luxury."
You listened politely as you drank. The changes birthing a child reared upon the body, you do not think you were in any rush to share the experience.
Melisende looked into the fire, chin upon the back of her hand. She seemed in no hurry to talk.
> make conversation
> argue Hugo's case
>> argue Hugo's case
On the matter of Justice, suggest that Hugo, as he was merely misled and waylaid by his senior, should as punishment be sent to the front lines so that he may offer penance to God and the Crown.
This way not only does the Crown retain a strong sword-arm but ensures that even Hugo would have a chance at surviving what would surely be a death sentence for a lesser man, let alone a boy-squire who has yet to win his spurs.
Also definitely not an obvious attempt at Hugo's redemption and winning his knight's spurs.
Also kind of hard to argue for a lesser sentence that isn't an execution when Hugo is basically a co-conspirator in the abduction. Feudal law in that time period really didn't give a damn if you were tricked into breaking the law-- breaking the law was absolute and there was little anybody could do besides leg it.
The Templar or the Hospitaler Orders would be at the front lines, the Templars would definitely welcome him since he's more or less going to be a future brother-in-law to one of their adherents.
Also pretty sure that penitent knights joined the Orders to make up for their crimes and stuff-- killing off your own better equipped soldiers would be an inefficient use of manpower and material.
He will spend all his time in a castle with his sweet loving wife who doesnt even ride or wield a sword while preforming court etiquette.
Because she is a good political match consider Hugo station.
Hugo is the bastard who committed a capital offense, if Wilhelm has a child, he's not getting anything. I think that a future with Sabeen would be best for him if he has any at all.
France may be a long way from the Levant but if Hugo gets punted back to the Rhineland... that's Plan B right there, the lineage won't end with everyone being raped and murdered by the Mongols and Timurids in about 100 years.
"You know I've done a little swordplay as well," you said, sipping your drink. It was a very watered wine, barely alcohol at all. "It was quite exciting. There's a lot more to it than I assumed."
"My father taught me a little when I was around your age," she said, "Occasionally I'd follow him on campaign as well, and received instruction from some of his knights. It's not boasting to say I was rather good at it."
"You went on campaign?" you sat up, surprised to think of these elegant woman dressed in armour.
"Oh I never fought in battle," she said, "I mostly kept to my father's tent, or watched from the sidelines. It was a very instructive experience. Too few young women experience. Many would be less quick to extol the virtues of war if they did." She lowered her cup into her lap, licked the wine from her lips. "I heard you have seen some fighting."
You drank. Nodded. "Just the once. It was terrifying. I'm in no rush to repeat the experience."
"Then you know what I mean," she said, and you nodded, you did. You knew what it was to watch men kill each other, and to watch them die violently. She mused the flames. "I worry that this coming fight with Egypt might grow into something larger. The Saracens look for a cause to rally them together, are we handing them one?"
> perhaps, it might
> don't let fear rule you
>cheated our mom
Nigga, what are you going on about? Our dad was an asshole, that ain't news.
Moreover, let's pretend you were right. So what? Solobro is our brother, and Hugo is too.
Cracka, you need to read the pastebin short stories that HF wrote and probably re-read the archives threads.
If this Quest had one of those Reading Renaissance or Accelerated Reader tests from elementary school, you'd have failed it and you wouldn't be allowed to join your friends for recess.
Is he even Wilhelm the Elder's son, and not the rapey uncle's?
> I do not know if this will cause them to become one sword against this kingdom, but that fortress of theirs is already harrying as it is
"So?" you sipped your wine, Melisende turned her attention to you, "Maybe it will, maybe it won't. It doesn't matter what the Saracen plans. What matters is what we do. Take action, or remain our homes. Of the two I would sooner be active in my destiny than wait on others to dictate it to me. This is a time of either do, or do not. And when we act we must do so without fear driving us."
You sipped your wine again.
"Right now the Saracens hate each other," you said, "But its not for love of us. Let us move while their back is to us, they'll not love us more for staying our hand."
"From the mouth of a child," Melisende looked delighted at you, sipped her drink again before setting it aside. She motioned for your hands, and took them in her own, "You have some wisdom in you my dear. Tell me, would you like to join my court for a time? I could use a new handmaiden." She held your hands firmly, the lightest crinkles around her eyes as she smiled.
You sat up straight in surprise.
> I would be flattered to do so
> I would, but I cannot leave my brother
She should trust our brother. He has been doing a great work, work tirelessly day and night to get everything into order.
That is, when he is not sleeping around with Chiri
> I would be flattered to do so
We could do much good for Wilhelm here and it would be great experience for her.
>> Other : Hesitant Acceptance
"Flattered as I am, Your Majesty, may I consult my lord brother? I fear that to just accept such a grand offer from Your Majesty on a childish impulse would offend him."
Wil needs an eye in the Royal Court. HF said a long while back that our home of Ramla has been infiltrated by everyone from Egypt to Baghdad.
Best to consult Wil so everyone in the family is on the same page.
"It would be my honour," you said, bowing your head, trying to contain your giddy excitement. "More than an honour, I'd be delighted." YOu couldn't keep from smiling, a pleasant and intense thrill in your stomach. You would be attending a Queen. No, the Queen. The Queen of Jerusalem herself.
There came a knock upon the door, and from outside the papery voice of Old Theodore.
"Fulk and Baldwin, to see the Queen!"
Melisende immediately released your hands and sat up, smoothing her skirts as her husband and son entered.
Baldwin walked with his father's arm on his shoulder, all rugged up in a gambeson the colours of Jerusalem, silver, blue and gold, with a wooden sword in hand. The clothing was heavy, and he looked tired, red faced and sweaty, so his steps dragged as his father escorted him in. He was an apple cheeked, sandy haired boy. When he saw you he broke out into a red blush that set those cheeks glowing.
Fulk, who had been a king only a year before, paused, allowing his son to step before him. His eyes went from Melisende to you. He was a large man, thickly built and despite graying still very muscular. His jaw was hidden by a sharp cut pepper beard, and his hair was long around his ears. Not at all an ugly sight, you shifted in your seat when his flint eyes traveled over you.
"My queen," he said.
"Husband," she stood, but then her eyes were on Baldwin and they lit up, smile grown to a grin. She held out her arms for him. The boy set down his sort very properly, and stepped forward into his mother's embrace with all the dignity he could muster.
"Oh my little soldier," she said, stroking his damp hair, "You'll be a grown man before I know it."
"Mum," he squirmed in her grip, eyes flitting between her and you. You hid your smile behind a carefully raised hand. Melisende released her serious little man, and motioned to you.
"This is Mathilde, come from Ramla to visit," she said.
His brow crinkled. "Are you Hugo's sister?" he asked.
"Half-sister," you said. The boy chewed his bottom lip as he stared at you, then he nodded. Picked up his sword.
"Mathilde will be joining our household for a while," the queen said.
"Your mother is fond of these Germans," Fulk added. He had a deep voice. "Maybe overly fond."
That set your back up, and irritation must have shown on your face because Fulk reclined a little. "Meaning no offence to you my lady," he said.
"I like Hugo," Baldwin said, gripping his sword, "He's my friend." He gave you another serious look, nodded again, and then trotted away.
Fulk waited, looking on his wife. "May we speak in private soon?" he asked.
"Soon," she replied. He thought on that word, the coolness of it, before following his son. Melisende turned back to you. "I expect you will wish to eat and rest. My sister wishes to see you, but don't feel compelled to push yourself. Retire if you wish, Hodierna will still be here tomorrow."
It was a clear dismissal. You rose from your chair and bowed before leaving.
Bayard had waited outside, arms crossed. The train of women had left, he spent his time eyeing the Armenian soldiers upon the royal doors. When you came out he stood straight, scratched his chin.
"All well?" he asked.
"I think so," you replied as he fell in beside you. You let out a large yawn that he soon caught, stretching out his arms overhead as well. It had been a long day.
> retire, you need rest
> visit Hodierna
>He was a large man, thickly built and despite graying still very muscular. His jaw was hidden by a sharp cut pepper beard, and his hair was long around his ears. Not at all an ugly sight, you shifted in your seat when his flint eyes traveled over you.
I see where this is going.
"Before we rest I must call on Princess Hodierna," you told Bayard, "As much as I'd like nothing more than to have a hot bath and stretch my legs, there are protocols to observe."
"Christ Almighty Matty if I knew there'd be this much standing around I'd have stayed with my wife," he grumbled but wore a grin as he did so. You couldn't say you'd let many other men call you Matty, least of all common men, but the scars on Bayard's face had earned him that right. You stopped the end of the corridor and pinched some lint from the gambeson he wore, right off the chest.
"Now, now Bayard, you cannot be implying my company is that unpleasant," you said, and blew the lint away before clapping your hands together, You turned and continued walking. "We'll be here a while now, the Queen has invited me to stay. If you wish to go back to your wife I won't stop you."
"Ha. No chance. Your brother ordered me to guard you. I'll stay as long as those orders stand."
You nearly missed a step, but caught yourself before you tripped. Suddenly you felt an uncomfortable twist in your stomach, a vaguely upset feeling that threatened to grow. It was only a half second before you found yourself and kept walking. Bayard probably didn't notice. You hoped he didn't notice. You hoped he did notice and felt like a fool. You felt stupid. You stopped thinking about him and what he'd said.
You turned the corner to Hodierna's private chambers and near slammed right into the chest of a man coming the other way. You gave a startled noise as you bounced backward.
Time to initiate the Reverse Genji Plan where he falls in love with a German noblewoman and stays true and faithful to his mum instead of causing a massive schism in the Kingdom of Jerusalem.
Anyonevthink that wil should perhaps send a gift and letter to the lord of damascus?
He did take care of hugo and is friendly to the queen. Would be good to keep good relationswith a friendly muslim power and an ally.
"Uh!" Bayard caught you before you could fall. All your emotions turned to a flash of anger. "Idiot!" you spat, pushing out of Bayard's hands and up into his.
He caught you bu the shoulders, large hands holding you still.
A chuckle. "You aren't the first woman to call me that."
You looked up into a handsome grin on a handsome face, set on broad shoulders, framed by red, red hair. Your breath caught and you felt a quick fluster. You did like red hair.
"You probably won't be the last," he said. Behind him was the knight, Sir Charles, and a pair of Templars. One was short and stocky, the other had the look of an angry boar and missing an eye, the opposite of Bayard's.
"Count Elias of Maine," he released you, stepping back into an elegant bow. The man had a good way of moving, a dancer's grace. "And you must be Mathilde of Ramla. Even we interfering foreigners have heard tales of your beauty."
"I am, yes," you said, drawing away and giving him your cold shoulder.
"I know your brothers, both exceptional men," he said, "It should be no surprise their sister is no less exceptional."
"Yet you are surprised?" you asked, brow raised.
"Well, yes," he said, "Does that offend you, that you surprise me?"
He talked like your brother Wilhelm and had his same smile. It sent a flutter through your belly. A pleasant one.
"A man should not be so easily surprised," you replied, "If you will excuse me, I have an appointment."
"Of course," he said, stepping aside for you.
You walked under his scrutiny and saw Bayard glare at the man as he followed you. For all that you just kept forward and kept a harsh expression, his smile did not slip and he seemed to be dancing in his eyes. The others in his party likewise made room for you.
When you were near Hodierna's door Bayard spoke low so only you could hear. "Elias is no friend to your family," he said, "Be careful of him."
"I can care for myself," you snapped. You knocked upon Hodierna's door, and when it opened looked back at Bayard. "Wait here," you said, "Until my brother says otherwise." Then you disappeared within.
A page boy presented you to Hodierna.
The first thing you noticed was a room without chairs. Only plush cushions and a cushioned recline. The windows were covered in a thick quilt, making the room all the darker, with the only light a soft fireplace glow.
Hodierna was by a fire place much as her sister had been, but she walked barefoot upon a rug made from bear skin and cradled a chalice of wine in both hands. She had changed from ornate cloth of morning to a simple grey-blue dress belted at the waist with golden chains. When she saw you she smiled, crossed the room on light feet.
Upon the low cushioned recline was the black skinned woman from her entourage, similarly dressed and barefoot, reading from a book.
"So glad you could join us," Hodierna offered you a cushion to sit upon, "We shall talk. As sisters." She herself took a seat upon one cushion, perched upon it as if she rode side saddle.
> (stand) you cannot stay long
> (sit) settle in for a time
2nd Crusade. And it was less that they were 'friendly' and more that they were both were trying to resist the influence of Zengi. He really wanted Damascus. The Crusaders and Damascus both recognized Zengi was the larger threat, and it was against the wishes of the Crusader States that the European coalition attacked Damascus.
He was part of Tancred's retinue that escorted Wil to Jerusalem, and most locals know Elias was part of the group that tried to convict Wil for kidnapping Ioveta. Word gets passed around quickly about that kind of stuff.
Won't happen here if we shore up the borders against Egypt; seizing the Sinai Peninsula would enable the military to free up resources to prevent the northern front from being so porous against raiders.
>Upon the low cushioned recline was the black skinned woman from her entourage, similarly dressed and barefoot, reading from a book.
Seems like Hod got her own Chiri to replace Rosalie
You slipped off your shoes and took the offered cushion. It was a plump, comfortable thing. Hodierna poured you a cup of wine and brought you a plate of food to sup on, which she lay on the rug beside you. The wine was stronger than the one you'd shared with Melisende. Hodierna reclined beside you.
"How was the road to Jerusalem?" she asked, "You must be tired."
"Very," you replied, "But the roads weren't so bad."
"It was not so long ago that raiders made them dangerous," Hodierna plucked a date, "We have your brother to thank for securing it."
You took a long sip of wine, letting it warm you, settle your frustrations. You took a nibble of a honeyed treat. The black woman closed her book and sat up.
"Naja dear, do massage my shoulders, I've such a strain," Hodierna said. The black woman cross to her mistress and slid behind her. Hands taking up her shoulders and fingers rolling the flesh beneath her silk dress. Hodierna gave a sigh. "Naja here is a Zanji," she explained, "A slave of the Muslims captured by Pagan in the south. She was given to me as a gift. Now of course she is free, and a Christian."
"Of course," Naja had a deep, husky voice. Hodierna reached up behind her with a date pinchin thumb and fore-finger. Naja bite it from her fingers as she worked, and those fingers trailed a line upon Naja's fine cheek bones.
There was a silent moment while you drank, listening to the crackle of the fireplace.
You looked to them and wondered how true that was. Hodierna looked you over. "There was a friend of mine in your company," she said, "Was. Your brother executed her for treason." Rosalie. You remembered watching her burn. You remembered being not at all troubled by it. She got what she deserved. But Hodierna spoke the next words almost shyly. "Tell me. I-I know the method of her execution, but not the details. Did she suffer much? How did she die?"
> she died well
She didn't die well she died in a fucking fire
We are being honest and possibly a little callous but she was a traitor who almost allowed us and one of our best friends to be raped and nearly destroyed our families good fortunes
This guy gets it.
Besides, spying for a foreign power? That's treason, and the punishment for that is death by burning at the stake.
Slapping people on the wrist for espionage? This ain't the American political system.
"Poorly," you aid, "She screamed and begged for mercy. The smoke did not suffocate her. She burned alive. All the way. I watched it and, to be frank, was rather glad for it. She was part of a Saracen spy network and a traitor. Everything that happened to her she deserved."
You saw the pale cast to Hodierna's face and gave her a sympathetic smile, patted her leg. "I'm very sorry but your friend was a treasonous whore," you said, "She was fucking the Assassin too. She was lucky my brother didn't mutilate her first for that."
Hodierna set down her cup and put a hand to her stomach. "I think you should leave," she said very softly, a prickle of tears around her eyes.
You set down your cup. "I'm truly very sorry if I upset you," you said, "You wished to hear the truth. If you do not wish for my company because of it I understand."
"No, just-" Hodierna put a hand before her lips, she looked as if she might start weeping, "Give me some time. Please, leave me be." Your guts clenched up and you felt like the worst sort of person.
You can see now you'd perhaps gone too hard in the details ad your personal feelings on the matter. You bowed your head and retreated, the page showing you to the door. You heard the start of sobbing as the door closed.
Bayard waited outside, straight backed and eye forward, staring at the wall.
You started for your residence but he stayed stock still. You looked back, waited."I was ordered to wait for your brother's order," he said when he wouldn't move.
"Don't play stupid games!" you snapped. Your fists were bunched up and you felt a start of tears in your own eyes. Oh you were being stupid again. You'd upset Hodierna and you kept feeling like a silly little girl every time you turned around.
Bayard looked at you, his one good eye softened. He reached for your shoulder. "Are you alright Matty?" he asked.
> no, I'm not!
> Of course, I'm fine!
"No, no I'm not!" you said, you started to march away. But then you turned around and marched back, right up to Bayard's face. Well, his chin anyway.
"But what do you care about it. You aren't my friend. You're just here because my brother made you come!" You were shaking, and the world became like church glass as tears filled your eyes. You wiped at your eyes as you walked away, feeling like such an idiot. Such a girl all of the time.
You didn't care if he followed. You wanted him to follow. You wanted to be alone. You wanted to yell at him some more. And you didn't.
You made it maybe around the corner before you felt his hand on your shoulder. "Christ in Heaven, Matty," he said, turning you around, "What made you think we weren't friends?"
You tried to glare at him, tried to put a jolt of hate right through him with your eyes, but you were full of tears and your face was scrunched up and you didn't really hate him, so you looked as intimidating as a kitten. He pulled you into a hug, you snuffed against his gambeson.
"I'm here for you kid, okay?" he said, "Until you don't need me any more. And even after that."
"I don't need you," you sounded sulky even to yourself, which made you feel even worse. And you didn't pull away from him either.
"I feel like I just made a complete fool of myself, I feel like I'm always doing something foolish, unwomanly," you said, "I feel like an ugly little fool. Taking two steps forward then falling on my face."
He didn't say anything. He just rubbed your back gently. Eventually he let you go. Held you at a distance. Your face was red and there was still moisture in your eyes, you probably looked stupid now too.
"I'm sorry," you snuffed.
"Don't be," he said, pulling out a cloth. He dabbed your cheek, turned your face in his hands, thumb feeling your chin. They were rough, his hands, against your skin. Rough and brown next to your pale soft flesh. "You aren't foolish," he said, "No one could ever call you a fool."
It threatened to make you cry again. So you punched him in the ribs. Not hard enough to hurt, even without the gambeson. He grinned and let you rub your face clean upon the bolt of cloth.
He walked with you to the rooms that had been. It had grown late, night had come. Portia and Maggie had both returned and gone to bed. You went to your bed chamber door, turned the handle and looked back at Bayard. He stood at the threshold of the antechamber, sword hilt in hand, watching you go. His own bed was a cot beside your door.
"Goodnight Bayard," you said.
"Goodnight my lady," he replied.
You went within, closing the door gently behind you.
End of thread
Mathilde +1 int, +1 cha, +2 lead
I was going to run longer, but I have to be up early tomorrow. I'll stick around for a QnA though.
Thanks for the thread
Were you hoping that we'd pick the "poorly" option? Makes for a more interesting thread
Do you enjoy writing a MC more than other MCs? Where does Mathilde rank?
No Aztec horde is going to arrive. Sorry. (though maybe, I thought about doing a What If? last halloween, might do that if I'm still alive this halloween)
Mathilde is considered an intelligent young woman with good prospects. She'll be fending off admirers soon enough.
On courting friendships with Muslim states: You can, but it will reflect on your reputation with Christendom. Some will strongly disapprove of you making common cause with Muslims too often, or prizing their favour over a fellow Christian.
>Were you hoping that we'd pick the "poorly" option?
I do enjoy the occasional melo/dramatic option, and I do think it fits Matty. She can be a cold blooded bitch when she wants to be.
>Do you enjoy writing a MC more than other MCs? Where does Mathilde rank?
I like writing each one for different reasons. My favourite has been which ever I'm writing currently. I try to keep Hugo, Wil, and Mathilde very different and try to run them against different kinds of choices and challenges. I actually have a bit of a harder time writing Wil lately because of how established he's become and how focused he has to be. It's also not easy trying to write someone that charismatic, and looking back on the older threads I outright cringe at some of the stuff I wrote.
>No Aztec horde is going to arrive. Sorry. (though maybe, I thought about doing a What If? last halloween, might do that if I'm still alive this halloween)
Do that for April Fool's day.
Just have Wil dreaming that he's back home on the Rhine and then Emprah Lothaire musters everyone to fight off the Aztecs who have pillaged the shit out of Hispania and the British Isles.
Concerning the point about whether to try Raymond and Hugo in Crown Court versus letting Pons handle it, would letting Pons handle it have undermined Crown Authority by a lot? Or would it have given the Lords of Jerusalem a chance to see their Queen in a positive light and thereby prevent a rebellion in the future?
Some would have thought it was showing a supporter special privelege. Some would have thought it meant she was too weak to assert her sovereignty over Tripoli and Antioch. Others would have thought it was the proper decision to make. There's no direct right/wrong answer on that kind of thing. Different lords will have differing opinions.
What it would have done though, would have forced her to bring the full weight of the law against Hugo. It wouldn't have been good for him.
So is it safe to assume that with obvious proof that will undoubtedly convict both Raymond and Hugo of abduction of a person of royal birth that both of them will be given a choice of a death by either the battlefield or the gallows?
Would any of the Knight Orders take them so as to ensure that they would both serve out their sentences until they are either dead or absolved of their crimes via Royal Pardon (if that's a thing)?
My knowledge of medieval laws and practices is patchy at best.
HF could we, perhaps, build an Order for woman that shows them the brutality of warfare as a mandatory subject but also provides a classical education? Simply name it Bene Gesserit?
Hugo's an impressionable, trusting boy.
He's not even 15 yet and he's been shot, stabbed, broke a few bones, killed a lot of men in melee, saw a girl get raped before his eyes, and has been bamboozled into kidnapping a member of the Rethel Royal Family by Raymond of Tripoli.
That man is a bad influence on everyone.
... oh shit, what about those Silk Road peoples? How the hell are they going to factor into Wil's plans?