“If your theory is correct, does that mean our Earl will soon be allowed to address the court, now the others have departed? Perhaps that is why Hamm returns.”
Was Hamm coming back?
Yep, he’ll be with you every day while you are in (or near) Eburacum
When he rides out this morning, he beams “Good news, the King has invited you to enter the city, lodgings are being prepared at Kings Court”
“Thank you Sir Hamm, or do you have a grander title these days? Where are we permitted to be inside the city?”
Merrick’s normal resting facial expression is a slight smirk. When he hears Sir Hamm’s news it grows just ever so slightly larger than normal.
“Indeed, very good news Sir Hamm! I hope once we have settled in we can sample more of that mulsum your squire made for us. It hit the spot.”
“Siege surviver is the only title of any meaning to me” he says dryly, “You have the freedom of any public area of the city, but Kings Court does not work like the courts of Logres, there is no grand hall, you have been allocated a lodge in the grounds, and you can decide who enters. You can walk the gardens, but may not enter any other building without invitation.” He shrugs “You’ll get used to it”
“Are the drill yards open to us? I have a young squire who seems to ended the evening with a grudge against your own. Something about Owls “
Hamm looks pained at the mention of owls “I’m afraid that you won’t be finding drillyards in court Sir, common soldiers are not permitted in unless on duty, they drill in their barracks. I wouldn’t recommend you try to enter a castle either. If you really must drill, I suggest a quiet place near the wall.”
He shakes his head, almost imperceptibly at something left unsaid, then “Are you ready to go, or do you need some more time? I know Sir Owain was out early, perhaps he would take a little more time for his breakfast, I wouldn’t want you having to perform your duties on an empty stomach”
(Hmm, does Hamm want us to see something if we wait?)
Owain waves away Sir Hamm’s suggestion. “Thank you for the concern, but there’s no need to delay on my behalf. I was reluctant to let my horses just stand idle after the journey here, and seeing the walls is a valuable exercise for my squires. I must admit that I am also interested in seeing the Court. On my last visit we were restricted to this side of the river.”
(Honestly don’t know. I was wondering if it was another test. A city that has survived a siege may regard those who tarry over meals a little less highly.)
Sir Hamm nods at Owain, but doesn’t reply.
He leads you too the gate, and it is opened for you. Up close you can see the damage to the sturdy woodwork, it shows signs of attacks with a ram and fire. It has been reinforced, and even as close as you rode yesterday, the damage is not apparent thanks to some cunning carpentry, but the gates need replacement.
Inside, the city has changed. All of the buildings close to the wall are gone, pulled down and in their foundations camp soldiers and knights. In the distance you see three ballistae, decommissioned, but hauled to this place to store them. Further in, the buildings still stand, but missing their roofs, doors and everything beyond their bricks have been stripped.
Finally you reach the inhabited part of the city, and sullen people watch you pass by with little interest in their eyes. The city is a surprisingly verdant place however. Instead of the great beautiful plazas and city squares, you find that the people have used every open space they can to grow crops. It’s not just the streets, but on top of the buildings, everywhere you look, food is being grown. This is far from an idyllic scene however, to reach the soil, the cobbles and paving slabs have been torn up and thrown into piles of rubble. You see signs of fighting everywhere, most of the buildings are damaged, either by fire, or by the force of siege weapons. Siege weapons that the Saxons did not have, Earl Roderick notes quietly “They fought their own population as well as the Saxons, presumably, those who wanted to surrender”.
One of the squires reaches for an apple from a tree, but Roderick glares at him and he stops. “Don’t take from these people” he hisses to the squire, “In this place, your nobility means nothing.”
Finally then, you reach the Roman palace that is Kings Court. Sir Hamm announces you and the gates are swung open. You notice that the walls and gates in here also seem to have sustained substantial damage, and an onager sits on every tower. Onagers which have no hope of being able to bombard anywhere but inside the city.
Inside, the palace grounds have also been turned over to the production of food. Where once gardens and fountains and box hedges would have made for a stunning vista, now the box hedges only enclose allotments, the fountains channel water into fields of oats and the fancy trees have been cut down.
The palace itself however is undamaged, and a gleaming jewel of Roman architecture. The layout is of three main wings each linked to the central villa, and a number of outbuildings, each twice the size of most manor houses litter the outsides. Every building is either a U shape, or a square, enclosing a courtyard. The one you are taken too is fully enclosed, giving you a private garden and outside space. Sir Hamm brings you to the door, but does not enter. Your building has no guards positioned outside, like the others, and inside it is comfortable but plain, with the signs of being stripped of anything valuable several times over.
As they pass through the city, Owain takes careful note of the changes made in response to the siege. The setting aside of areas within the walls for agriculture are very intriguing. As a landowner himself, he knows that crops take time to grow for harvest, so it speaks of both the length of siege, and perhaps the planning and determination to survive. That the growing areas are still being maintained suggest that either a lesson has been learned about securing a food supply within the walls, or that the arable land outside has been compromised or not deemed safe to cultivate.
He nods at the Earl’s words but privately muses about the signs of conflict inside the walls. There’s no telling when those marks were made. It could have been from during the siege, but there may have been unrest afterwards. Sir Hamm mentioned the cost of survival, and the loss of cultural identity; would these things could be enough to inspire insurrection?
Once inside the villa he has a quiet word with his squires. “Remember we are here as envoys of King Uther. Anything you do wrong will not only shame me, but Salisbury and the whole of Logres. Exemplary behaviour please. It maybe best to keep quiet outside these walls, but keep your ears open. There is a lot that has occurred in Malahaut which been hidden from us.”
(Are there servants or is this place our own?)
No servants, the place is your own.
Balen plonks down his helm, and after checking to find no one else present, returns to Roderick.
“Well isn’t this place a horrible reflection of what could be. My lord, you know of Sir Hamm, a famed swordsman and mighty warrior. And yet his squire has spent most of his formative years writing for the monks. I thought it was bad to have to take on second squires from outside the ranks, but it appears that is all that is left here.”
He sucks his teeth loudly. “The palisades and abandoned gatehouses show no sign of repair. When Hamm talked about this place being defeated he was right, they seem almost to have given up. His horse unaccustomed to long patrols.”
“Be careful my lord, an ally already resigned to defeat, might strike out against any who come into range in their death throes.”
I think you’re quite right that Malahaut plumbs the depths of its strength, but i do not see a defeated people here, I see a people who know they are weak but feel they must hide it to the world. You say they have not repaired their gatehouse, and you are correct, they haven’t, yet they have made it look repaired from the outside. Malahaut has more strength than even they know, but still, be careful. You know your task, take as much time today as you need, but do not worry about guard duty here, I am quite safe, physically I believe.
Ryia absorbs her surroundings, her attention focused upon the blank and lifeless faces around them. It is much quieter than she would have expected, no sign of children playing, or merchants calling out their wares. Had she not just walked through the gates, she would have guessed they were still under siege.
Once they reach their quarters, she has her squires remove her armor before excusing herself. She returns to the streets and looks closer at the populace. Specifically, she’s looking to judge their health, and living situation as well as the state of their markets if they even exist after the siege.
The ride through the city does not surprise Merrick. Desperate times lead to desperate measures, and sometimes in the pit of chaos the unthinkable happens. Salvaging supplies from homes, tearing up the streets to grow crops, and having to battle those who were not your enemy; all are signs of a long hard fought siege. In such dire moments a people could turn on themselves and the selfishness of those who desire to out live the next man will breakthrough causing those who were once quiet and obedient to turn. Merrick thinks to himself, Hopefully, Sarum will never see such an event as this…
He is however surprised by the ingenuity of the people to use what little space and resources they have to sustaining themselves; and he wonders if this was the peasants making due with what they have, or the orders of the nobility. Either way, he respects the effort and looks to his squires to ensure that they and himself are not a burden on an already taxed populace.
He tries to avoid staring at the damage from the siege, but he does take note. Anything he sees here may be useful in the future if the worst were ever to fall upon Salisbury.
Is it possible to reach the roof?
There’s no step or ladder up there, and this is far enough North that the Romans built it to take snowfall, that means a steep angle to the terracotta tiles, but you can climb up there, certainly.