“No sign we were here means no looting Sir Merrick” the Earl growls, “If they arrive back and no-one’s here but their possessions are intact it a lot less suspicious than no-one here, and anything of value missing. Lincoln gave us their trust so I could give Sir Ryia some experience in combat, don’t turn a trusted ally into someone who can’t trust us.”
Merrick nods and respectfully responds, “Of course, Sir, I will put it out of my mind and make sure they are not disturbed.”
He thinks to himself: It is a good thing I told them not to touch the weapons until we got the OK from the Earl… But it is still good to know the approximate size of the force which was stationed here. This amount of supplies indicates a good sized force.
Balen is eager to move on. Treasure has never really interested him…
Merrick makes sure everything is left alone, gets his squires rounded up, and is ready to ride on.
(I agree with @Scribbs, probably best to take on the escorts)
Upon hearing the exchange between the Earl and Sir Merrick, Ryia hesitates for a moment but decides to inform him anyway.
“Earl Roderick, the Saxons told me about a chest of gold during the fight. I think we should take it. Saxon turncoats aren’t very suspicious, but Saxon turncoats leaving behind a wealth of gold definitely are. If we’re lucky, they’ll believe they’ve been betrayed and hunt after their deserters.”
She speaks confidently, but her mind is filled with doubts. If she couldn’t even face down three measly Saxons, what does that say about her training? About her life as a knight? After this fight, Ryia feels sick, and by the time she returns home, she will have lost several pounds due to stress.
“Which is precisely what we don’t want them to do. When they return, we want them to stay at the house, not go searching for their missing gold, otherwise Lincoln’s ambush will be ruined. If they get back and the people are gone but the treasure and valuables is still exactly where it should be, well people have all sorts of reasons for wandering off. If they leave their things behind, then it is usually because they intend to return.”
He turns to the rest of you
“Mount up, we will be riding slowly with our guests in tow, let’s make our way to the city now.”
(( Let me know if you have any last minute things to do here and how you ride onwards. ))
(Balen stows his spear and returns to a more reassuring weapon.)
Owain is ready to go, and liaises with the Romans to organise a small escort for the onward journey.
Merrick quickly wipes down his weapons and saddles up, ready to march onward.
The ride to Eboracum is uneventful, the Roman mercenaries keep to themselves as much as possible, and you are soon in sight of the walls of the great city.
The Earl dismisses the Romans an hour’s ride out, but the land is peaceful and after the siege, being rebuilt.
“I dismissed our escorts” he tells you “So that we can strategise in private. Some of those soldiers were straining their ears a little as we spoke on the journey, probably base curiosity, but still, it’s the principal. Now, as you know, we are here to formalise the alliance of Logres and Malahaut against the Saxons. The Centurion King is a proud man, and his men are too. Three years ago, we marched North and had we not, Malahaut would not exist today, however, do not imagine that stating this out loud will win us favours here.”
The Earl stops speaking suddenly and rubs his forehead “I am not a politician. I am a fighting man and this is not a comfortable assignment for me. You are my guards, but more than that, I will be relying on your eyes and ears, your advice and your reading of the situation. Before we move into the city, let us discuss how we are to proceed. Once in court, I shall not immediately bring up our business here, this is normal and expected. We shall be summoned, and it may take weeks, perhaps longer.”
“The Centurion King no doubt has already heard that an envoy approaches, that I am the envoy and he will have a few ideas of why we are here, I guarantee that his leading theory will be that we wish to formalise the alliance. We won’t be able to keep our cards to our chest, and neither should we, we are here to deepen our friendship. Please do not act in a way that raises suspicions that we are here with hostile intent.”
“For the first few days I want each of you to listen and learn. One of you is to liaise with the servants and commoners” he looks pointedly at Sir Ryia.
“One of you is to speak with the soldiers and men at arms, one the knights of the realm and one the nobles and dignitaries. Any questions, ideas or points you just want to bring up?”
"Balen and I have visited Eboracum before, acting as messengers for Uther to the Centurion King, although I am not sure whether we will be remembered for that. We both also skirmished around the border here against the Saxons, and then fought at Lincoln, where Balen helping to capture King Octa. That may help give some weight to our presence and standing as allies of Malahaut, Balen’s deeds in particualr. "
“I am afraid none of us are particularly courtly, although I suppose my name may hold more recognition here than everyone else bar your own, my Lord. Whilst I would be far more comfortable speaking to knights or soldiers, perhaps it would be best if I was to try and speak to the nobles and dignitaries?”
As always my lord, I wish to check on Sir Hamms recovery since the siege? Truth be told I’d rather discuss with the knights and warriors. I’m a little out of my depth in court. The lack of weapons you see?
"Just different weapons; words that can cut sharper than swords, customs as impenetrable as a fort.” Owain grimaces, not very happy at the thought of socialising with courtly nobles.
“At least on the battlefield if I come home covered in blood I know I’ve done a good job.”
“I am as comfortable among the nobles as I am among the peasantry. Perhaps I could speak with both groups or join Sir Owain when I am finished talking to the peasants?” Ryia offers.
Strange… A diplomatic mission, involving a lot of talking and observation, and the Earl brings me along…
Merrick shifts around uncomfortably for a moment and then pipes up, “I will talk to whoever you want me to… Is there anything which is significantly different from the Centurion King’s court from yours or Uther’s court? Any special rules or customs which should be honored and observed?”
He brought along knights who were on their 40 days, he can’t ever pick and choose from his full compliment, you are nobility, not serfs and peasants to be commanded. With his reduced number of knights, he only had 8 to choose from, and so here you are!
Any differences in the courts will be covered by any courtesy roll you make, succeed and you either remember the different customs and rules and act on them accordingly, or your Logres manners are accepted. Fail and you don’t!
“I don’t want you to interview them” Sir Roderick sighs “Court is the art of subtlety, if you start questioning people like a barbarian they will run rings around you, just for fun. I’ll leave it up to you to arrange yourselves, if you think you can report accurately to me on both, then do so.”
“Did Lady Indeg leave any reports concerning the attitudes of particular individuals towards Logres before she passed?” Owain asks the Earl.
“She found the Centurian King’s court to be a boiling pot of opinion” The Earl tells Owain “The Kingdom had undergone a great upheaval, and it’s natural for the established order to be thrown into disarray with many ideas that would have been suppressed before gaining prominence. There is still a great deal of support for our alliance and a willingness to work together, most crucially, the King is stable and holds himself aloof from court, he is not easily swayed by their plotting. I hope things have settled since peace has resumed, but we need to learn in what way it has settled. Lady Indeg’s death was a savage blow to us all.”