He looks at the offered coin blankly, then, “Think about all the things you would be willing to die for.” He looks from Balen to Owain, answering both their questions in one.
“Your Lord, your family, your King, your Gods. Land? Possessions? What about your children’s future. Would you die not to keep them from harm, but to ensure their future was as good as it could be. What about your freedom? Would you die rather than be enslaved? To escape a tyrannical ruler? Saxon Rule?”
He pauses. “What if it wasn’t your life you were losing, but everything? You will die, that’s a given. Your loved ones will die or be enslaved, all your possessions taken, your land, your community devastated and your culture mortally wounded. What’s worth that? What would you give everything for?”
“Coin has no real meaning here, not at the moment. We gave everything for our King, for our freedom. When an enemy army arrives outside your walls, if you don’t surrender when you are called on, then you have to give everything or face a genocide. Surrender and face subjugation by barbarians, or live free and die, live free and lose everything.”
“We’ve faced that choice. We made our choice. This is the afterlife now. We won, but our culture was destroyed, our communities torn apart. Our land was salted and burned and destroyed. Everything we owned was taken, if not by the Saxons looting our manors, then by the orders of the King to keep order in the city. And we lost so many.”
“So, how are we doing? I don’t think we know yet. Power is the only currency understood in Eburacum, all are loyal to the King, but the King listens to those who speak the loudest. And the competition to speak the loudest is fierce. Loyalties flow like water, plots play out daily. On the surface, all is calm, but look below and it’s a feeding frenzy.”