Farmers Market




Lewis & Quark


Freedom is not Free

  It had only been a year and a half since his succession to the throne, and his kingdom was already falling apart. Bernica had been a proud, untamed country of noble warriors whose ancestors had fought against invaders for hundreds of years and had never been conquered. But the fire in their blood had cooled to a dim flicker. They had become complacent, content to boast of noble lineage, while doing nothing to leave a legacy for their descendants. Content to stand on the foundations of their fathers, but not defend and uphold them with their lives, to wear swords for petty quarrels but not for any true battle. Content. They would go happily into servitude of they thought it meant peace. It broke his heart. 

Aldryn Selgha, King of Bernica stood in the Great Hall of Dunrhegan Castle, waiting to receive the envoy of the King of Rislan, the western neighbor of his own kingdom. The meeting would be one of cordiality, but not friendship; for Rislan was not an ally, but a would-be conqueror. The muddled state of the Bernican royal line had drawn the attention of the King of Rislan, who saw the perfect opportunity to claim his right by conquest to the kingdom’s throne. Aldryn’s predecessor, King Unvere had only one heir, a niece who died young, and left Bernica kingless after Unvere himself died. A young Earl, Aldryn of Leuoe was chosen by the Bernican barons as their next ruler. But the King of Rislan saw the succession of a new ruler as a chance to finally secure Bernica for the Rislian throne. It was for this reason that he sent an ambassador to the seat of Bernican rule, to persuade Aldryn and the Bernican barons to concede the throne before a war began. 

“Sir Thrane, envoy of King Erred of Rislan.” Aldryn straightened as the Rislian ambassador and his small retinue strode into the hall. After the formal greetings were finished, Sir Thrane addressed him frankly. “It is no mystery why King Erred has sent me to Dunrhegan, for his Majesty wishes for this good land to join the Rislian crown, but his Majesty understands the gravity of the situation and what horrors a war could bring on both our lands. He seeks to avert and conflict and keep the peace both kingdoms enjoy. He also would have the people of Bernica know what great benefits they could gain if our two countries were made one.” 

“These benefits would have to be great indeed,” Aldryn remarked, “for Bernica already enjoys relative peace and prosperity.” “Peace and prosperity you have, but Bernica has in centuries past suffered at the hands of Northern invaders; and though the strength of Bernica has in past times sufficed, the adjoining of Bernica and Rislan would make a formidable foe for any kingdom. Rislan can field many men to guard the Northern coast for our mutual protection.” Aldryn shook his head. “Sir Thrane, it has ever been the way of the proud clans of Bernica to stand or fall by our own swords. If Rislan would draw sword with us against a common enemy, we will gladly stand side by side, but shame it would be indeed if we have grown so feeble as to need protection.” The envoy’s expression soured slightly. 

“His Majesty King Erred would also make it known to the people of Bernica that his claim to the throne is not an empty one, but one of lineage as well as might. The Rislian royal line is many times intertwined with that of Bernica, and though your Majesty is a good leader and an honorable man, Unvere has a living relative. Though distant, his Majesty King Erred’s line is also Bernican.” Aldryn was surprised that Erred would assert a claim of lineage, but knew as well as any that the royal lines of Bernica and Rislan were in fact connected, as marriages between royalty from both Kingdoms had not been infrequent. But the people of Bernica chose their king, and it had not been Erred of Rislan. Nevertheless, he chose to remain silent for the time being. “There is one final matter to be brought to your Majesty’s attention, one of utmost importance to the lives of every Bernican. King Erred can field an army of more than fifteen thousand trained soldiers, led by experienced Lords and knights. Bernica has not the numbers to stand against Rislan, and my Lord the King wishes that it never should. A great devastation need not come upon this kingdom.” Sir Thrane drew back, his message completed. Aldryn knew the bitter truth of each word, Bernica could not match the numbers and training of Rislan. But he could not in good conscience allow his kingdom to by subjugated.

Part 2 coming soon!
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