“Tullus? He is the Princeps of Malahaut, the leading citizen of the country and one of three Dominus in the court.”
Infiltrate? I’ll have you know we are noble knights, not flithy spies!
“I imagine there are many others here in the city that share your loss. I heard that the Saxons fairly devastated the land they occupied leading up to the siege. Has there been any plans to reclaim Malahaut’s territory? Have you any thoughts towards reclaiming your lands now?”
“We lost no further territory, but of course I have plans to reclaim my lands, only, they would require the combined armies of Logres, Malahaut, Cambria and the Northern Kingdoms. The Saxons are reinforced every year and take slaves by the thousands to fund their occupation. While it is so profitable, it will continue to attract Warlords such as Octa and Eosa.”
Balen returns to their quarters. He thinks it is time for their Earls counsel.
“Balen!” The Earl is relieved to see you, it seems you have interrupted him practising how to bow a most obnoxiously extravagant bow. “What news of the knights and fighting nobility?”
“Yes, the continuous tides of Saxons arriving on Briton’s shores gets to be quite tiresome.”
Owain remarks with a wry smile, but quickly becomes more serious. “Too much to hope that a victory such as at that won at Lindsey and subsequent driving back of the Saxons would be enough to win some respite.”
“Respite, certainly, some. Meanwhile, we are paralysed into a political deadlock while they rebuild for the next attack, mark my words, the next one will be worse.”
“That does not sound good. Best to quickly make a decision rather than pervaricate and do nothing. A wrong choice is better than no choice at all - at least you can set your course and steer into it as best as you are able.”
(How many soldiers are stationed with the young soldier? Or is he by himself?)
Merrick nods in understanding but it turns into a look of slight confusion, “I am sorry to have delayed you from your duties…” then he speaks more to himself than the soldier directly but still loud enough for the soldier to hear, “but I do wonder who the other two ‘Dominus’ are? That is a title I have never really heard before… clearly bestowed upon someone of great status. I would be very embarrassed if I ever encountered them and gave an improper greeting…”
“Well, maybe. Depends on how bad the wrong choices are.” He glances around “I can’t say any more, not here, but come to Gaius’ dinner tonight, I think you will find it mutually beneficial!”
(Let’s say there are 5 others around the particular square you are in)
“Dominus is like one of your Lords” he tells you, “I think, like your Earl” and the others, well there’s Gaius and Potitus. Can’t say I know too much about them."
“Thank you very much for the invitation, I would be glad to attend. Which villa does Gaius reside in? I would hate to impose myself on the wrong company…”
“I have prepared a thorough report. I began by drilling the squires in the areas of the guest villas. Not one other knight made themselves known, indeed the people seem most dissatisfied. After this I visited the hospital to find no Knights, and empty beds. The Sister in charge only confirmed my suspicion that the defence of this land is being carried out by a third party. Even more she speaks of Saxon messengers inside these walls. This fact was confirmed by Sir Hamm. He talks of many visitors petitioning the Centurion. But he distrusts you, and even my enquiries about knights I have served with are ignored. He is ever cautious in his words.
Balen let’s the shade of courtesy slip for a second.
“By Gods Teeth I have no idea. For all I know Sir Hamm is the only Knight in the whole city, the ruling class are paying off the Saxons for peace and there are no casualties because no one is fighting anyone.”
He regains some composure. “I did repeat to Hamm the offer made several years ago about the exchange of knights and I hope it will be included in his own report.”
Sorry to interrupt, I don’t mean to heckle. I really try to just be a spectator. But for some reason, Ross’s response had me rolling on the floor laughing (possibly because of the birthday drinks I had earlier, and I’m also using that as an excuse to interrupt this PBF).
Owain: You are pointed to the South Eastern wing of the central villa.
“Interesting”. The Earl considers your words carefully. “Let’s think on what we know, we know the realm suffered greatly and the people were subject to terrible hardships and pressure. Pressure enough to hurt the minds of men. We also know they are a proud people, but more than pride, I sense that they portray strength as a matter of survival. We are low on knights in Salisbury, and I have often noted how empty court feels, there are times when there are not many of you there. And my court has no place of privacy, unlike here.”
He thinks some more. “They don’t feel the need to project strength that they do not have to us, this is good, they know we are here for peace, not war. Indeed, Sir Hamm has been remarkably honest, more honest than I would have expected, stopping short of selling his kings secrets. He bears me no love, that much is obvious, yet he is trustworthy. He mentions that he was sent to us, if he won’t talk about the other knights, will he tell you who sent him? Perhaps that person can shed some light on the other knights, where they are and what they are doing.”
There is a sudden rapping at the door.
“Balen, will you answer that please, and if they must see me, then keep them for a moment, I wish to change into something, well, less frilly before I speak to them.”
Owain will thank Gallus again, and then take his leave to return to speak to the Earl. He’ll wave a florid goodbye to the Iberian on his way out of the stables, and keep an eye out for him as he heads back to the villa.
Balen wanders over to the door. “Quit your rapping. Who goes there?”
Owain, I think you are just arriving as Balen is answering the door, you see a man, not in full armour, but certainly armoured and wearing a sheathed sword - while Malahaut does allow some select commoners to carry a sword, in particular soldiers who are non-commissioned officers, it is pretty obvious that this man is a knight.
Balen, the man calls through “Sir Estève of the Water, for Sir Balen”
Owain will stop a suitable distance away as to not impose unduly upon the encounter, but will bow in greeting and introduce himself if Sir Estève turns at his approach.
Is this someone I would know?