On the Good Ship Beowulf
Gesa'd Young Blade
Religion: Church of Avalon
Virtue: Temperate (The Glyph); Prevent any magical effect from hurting you
Hubris: Proud (The Sun); Refuse offer of aid
Aristocrat; Quirk: Prove there is more to nobility than expensive clothes and attending court
Duelist; Quirk: Resort to the edge of your blade to defend a noble ideal
Duelist Academy (Donovan)
Your Mission, if You Choose to Accept it
- In which Turlough’s quest receives official approval – after he agrees to perform a small service for the Crown.
End Turlough stands on the deck of the ship, looking back at Albion, and wonders how long it will be until he sees his home again.
Reward Advantage: Foreign Born (Castille).
Iron and Castille
- In which the journey is not without its complications.
- In which the Inqusition’s power is felt.
- In which peace with honour is restored to the Two Valleys.
- In which a wedding day turns to confrontation.
End Turlough drives his sword through his enemy’s heart, but must now face the consequences.
Reward Skill: Weaponry 4
Character image by irenalovisa: Aramis from the BBC Musketeers https://irenalovisa.deviantart.com/art/Aramis-441254833
Pray excuse me for not explaining my history before now. There is much that I would say, but I am cautious about speaking my secret, lest word of it should reach my family and bring them the same problems as me.
I considered myself lucky to be born a younger child of a minor noble family with merchant connections. I enjoyed a comfortable life and benefitted from a good education in academic lore, courtly manners and swordsmanship. But I did not have to shoulder the heavy responsibilities of an heir. I had plans to marry a neighbour and raise a family. The only difficulty was deciding whether to parlay my share of the family business into acquiring a modest title and lands of my own, or to go into trade wholesale and enjoy riches at the expense of losing my social station.
Perhaps I had a romantic sense of nostalgia for the days when that choice was not necessary, when wealth and influence went hand in hand. The unspoken desire to have it both ways at once must have influenced me when I was enjoying a rousing night out at my favourite alehouse, and the conversation turned to the travails of the Castilian nobility. Many families had fought bravely against the Montaigne invasion, and their reward for victory was to see their lands confiscated by the corrupt Church. We all agreed this was a shameful state of affairs, and a revealing contrast to the fair settlement our fathers reached in Avalon after throwing off the foreign yoke.
One young stranger said the fault was with the Castilian nobility themselves, that for all their talk of family pride, their hot blood was more interested in pursuing the opposite sex than their birthright. I didn’t know the truth of that slur, but I loudly declared that no Avalonian worthy of the name could follow such a base course. I swore by my sword that if my own kin suffered such an injustice, I would not suffer it to rest in its sheath – and neither would I waste any time sheathing anything else. My words draw applause and bawdy laughter, but I felt somehow they had more significance than that, and I missed something important.
I staggered homewards late that night, late enough that my pedantic tutors would have insisted it was morning. The stranger from the tavern was walking alongside me, but I thought nothing of that until I slipped and his arm caught me, saving me from a tumble headfirst into a stinking ditch. At his touch I suddenly found myself stone cold sober – a disquieting experience. I mumbled some words of thanks.
“My friend, you spoke anon of the rights of your family, and how that cause takes precedence over, shall we say, expanding that family. Do you sincerely mean that?”
“Why, yes Sir. I swore it on my sword.”
“Then I have something of import to you and your kin, if you will excuse the late hour.”
I was puzzled at this hint, and curious enough to stop and listen. I took a seat on the farrier’s hitching rail and the strange fellow revealed his business with me. He told me of my lineage, accurately listing my immediate family, grandparents and cousins. He went on to describe others further removed, and reached a branch of the family only faintly known to me. I knew my mother’s father’s father was a foreign gentleman of good birth, but I was surprised to hear he was the scion of a great house.
Now, due to the mishaps of war and the ignoble machinations of their enemies, their main line had been extinguished and their lands seized. By ancient tradition of their land, my kin had a claim to their holding. This seemed rather an academic point to me – we all know there are many old familes who have fallen from power and influence, and the desmene in question is far from Avalon – but the stranger reminded me of my oath.
I protested that I had spoken those words as a generality, and I had no knowledge of the rights and wrongs of any particular dispute. And furthermore, I referred to established houses newly-exiled from their familiar homes, not obscure claims over distant lands.
“Mayhap such thoughts were in your mind,” said the stranger, “but your heart was filled with a passion for honour and justice. And your words came from your heart.”
I had no good answer to this.
The odd fellow spoke again, this time with a peculiar rasp in his voice, like the buzzing of a fly.
“Words have power, and all the more so when spoken to a Sidhe. Your oath binds you. Whether it will bring you greatness or misery is in your hands, not mine.”
I inwardly cursed my indiscretion. I imagined my foolish tongue shrivelling up like a salted slug. Then I wished I had not conjured up such an idea in the presence of one who might well be able to pluck it from my mind and make it a reality.
I asked the person as politely as I could whether he was certain all he had told me was true. He swore by the moon and stars that it was so, and at that moment the clouds parted to reveal the full glory of the heavens. I took my leave of him, and with a disturbing smile he wished me good luck in restoring the fortunes of my family.
Many people would be pleased at discovering a right to an important title – one could demand a good price for renouncing the claim, or if nothing else it would be a matter to boast of. But I felt myself trapped, and was concerned with seeking a way out of the prison, some sign to prove the inheritance was invalid or had lapsed. I asked the oldest members of my family for their recollections, without explaining why I had taken such a keen interest in my ancestors. I spent several days investigating old documents and more recent news from abroad, and came to the conclusion that the Sidhe’s story was spotlessly true.
The same could not be said of his motives. He soon revealed his purpose, which had nothing to do with the good of my family. The very next day I discovered the man in the company of my own sweetheart, flattering her with pretty words. I tried to reveal the stranger for what he was, but found my mouth could only utter nice platitudes. My vow held me in the most constricting bondage, keeping me from pressing my suit further or even warning my beloved from an entanglement that was fated to end in misery.
I spent long hours pondering my situation – I had little else to think about, as pretty faces had ceased to hold any interest for me. I resolved to break this curse the only way I knew, by restoring the rights of my long-lost ancestors. Then I could return, and if the Sidhe was still here, I would repay him with interest for his cunning trick.
Achieving my goal would require allies, so I obtained an introduction to court, and travelled there. My parents knew nothing of my true goals – I had no wish to place them under the same compulsion as myself – and were pleased I was doing something definite to better myself. My beloved rebuked me for turning so cold towards her, and there was little I could say in reply. Although I pitied her distress, I felt secretly pleased that her new suitor, for all his charms, could not raise her spirits when she was separated from me.
I imagined the stranger would seek my beloved for a brief liaison and then discard her, as his kind are said to treat mortals. I realised that I was honour-bound to forgive her if she succumbed to his advances, after he had made a greater fool of me. The question was more would she forgive me for abandoning her to his clutches? The enchantment left me no choice, but I knew not whether she would accept that excuse, especially since my fetters were of my own making.
No sooner was I established at court than word reached me that my rival was playing a different and larger game. He must have tried his beguiling ways on my love’s parents, with more success than his approaches to the maiden herself. They spoke of marriage, and it seemed likely the ceremony would have gone ahead very quickly were it not for my own parents’ influence, who asked she consider waiting until I had made my mark and proved myself successful enough to be a good match. I am grateful that they put my wishes first, when they could so easily have removed her to leave me free for a more advantageous match with some well-placed courtier.
By long tradition, Avalon’s wedding customs include various rituals of ancient and obscure origin, whose practical effect is to unmask any Sidhe trying to marry a mortal. No doubt my rival planned to forego these parts of the ceremony, or slip past them through some subterfuge. It is of course forbidden for a human to marry a Sidhe, and according to the tales it is an even more serious crime for them under their alien system of morality. It is always heartening to see one’s personal desires align neatly with the law.
The stranger knew much about my family, but he did not know everything. My sword had once belonged to my uncle, who was a fine warrior in his day. One day in particular, he had battered an enemy’s armour so hard his weapon had been bent, so that it could not be sheathed. The repair would normally be a simple job for a swordsmith, but on this occasion my uncle was preparing an ambuscado, and the smoke of even a small fire would be seen many miles away. Instead he had to spend a good two hours hammering before the blade was in shape to be sharpened and sheathed.
The attack was a success and caught the enemy completely by surprise. But the point is that my sword is cold-worked iron, and so is as deadly to the Sidhe as to a man of ordinary flesh and blood. They have ways to avoid its dangers, but that night I swore an oath on my sword, and this particular fellow chose to bind me with it. I am convinced that in so doing he has in some way bound himself to the sword too. And when I have made good my family’s rights, and returned home in triumph, I intend to plunge it to the hilt right into his heart, if heart he has.