My waiting bores me greatly. I check up on my Chancellor and discover he STILL hasn't made any progress. A brief chat with the rest of the council present cements my worries, the Chancellor is simply not good enough for the job. But there aren't any better men in my realm, and we're too close to being financially stable to spend money on bribing other men to come to my court to replace the landed fool.
The waiting continues...
My liege, however, is not content on waiting either, and swoops in on the Argyllian revolt, hoping to grab some land for the country. I assume he has superior forces than the revolt, but I don't bother to actually check. It makes no difference to me who controls Argyll right now.
Back at home, I managed to make my wife pregnant again. I pray for a daughter and set back my murder plans even farther.
The Marshal, meanwhile, has apparently found a mysterious man on our grounds. I see no reason to doubt the man's tale, and it makes very little difference to me, so I order him released. Eadulf isn't very pleased with the decision, but we are on good terms, so it doesn't weigh heavy on our relationship.
The waiting has made me restless but lazy. I declined the falconer's request to inspect the birds in favor of planning our expansion again. The court seems to think better of me for it, for some strange reason.
My wife gives birth to a daughter as the year passes by. Thankfully it's a girl, and I haven't ever been more pleased.
I begin to doubt the pending decision to kill my wife. The plans keep getting set back farther and farther, and I don't think I have the stomach for it.
Not to mention what everyone will think if I'm found out!
The year ticks over, and a peace is forged in the lands of Argyll. They now rest under the heel of my liege, and their revolt on Søreyar is crushed. I continue to wonder at how strong Søreyar must be if it couldn't handle Carrick or the Argyllian Revolt before both were taken from them. It's strange, indeed...
Looking at a new map of the realm, Scotland looks to be nearly united. Søreyar and Carrick are the only other independent Scottish realms not under our king, and the only county under foreign rule is Katanes, which is held by the Norwegians. I idly wonder what will happen first, will my liege come to blows with Norway over Katanes, or will I take the throne and do it myself?
Soon I'm drawn to thinking about my plans for my wife, and I call my spymaster over to talk. I ask him whether it's truly a smart idea to go through with it, and he waves his hands in front of his face.
"Yes, yes, killing your wife and marrying into an alliance would be an indisputable positive, but there are bigger things afoot right now."
He hands me a list of people in the court of Teviotdale who have expressed a willingness to support me if I ever decide to take the title from my Earl. The news surprises me, since four years ago nobody was willing to join even for a small "gift." My Spymaster's toothy grin widens, and I realize that he's branched his work outside the capital, and managed to fix this situation for me. I thank him for the news, and I give him a healthy raise, and then I get to planning.
I contact the people, who all reaffirm what the Spymaster claimed, and soon I had a powerful enough force to demand the land be given to me. I send the letter and the signatures, signed and sealed with the Lothian crest, and I wait on pins and needles. Wresting land from vassals is never a smooth operation, and more often that not blood has to be shed. I have my Marshal call the levies early, and move them in towards Teviotdale in preparation.
As I thought, he wasn't keen on the idea of surrender. I swoop in with my army before he can even call his men to arms, and soon we have his castle surrounded.
But somehow we're not enough to siege it! The walls are too well defended, and we simply cannot gain any progress. I order the marshal to call on my vassals' men, and they join the fray.
But even THAT'S not enough! The full forces of the Duchy of Lothian cannot hold ground against the castle of a mere earl?! This is complete madness!!
Unfortunately, I have to give the order to hire a Saxon band of mercenaries. With their numbers, we begin to make progress, but the extra men take their toll out of my treasury.
The year ticks over, the siege continues, but my Marshal has died. He was a great man at his job, and he is greatly mourned. The rest of the men pale in comparison, and some of the candidates don't seem to know which part of the sword you're supposed to hold. It is a sad day in Lothian, indeed.
Time ticks by, and soon the castle falls to my forces. Once it falls, the remaining holdings are much less well fortified, so I disband the mercenaries. Thankfully, my steward was able to collect a tithe from the capital, so we fight on with a secured treasury.
Another year, another pregnancy. It seems like this is happening regularly now. I'm too caught up in the war to even care for very long about my shoddy plans, so Etheldreda stays happy and living. Later, when the baby is born, we will see that it's thankfully another daughter.
The steward who sent me the tithe asks for permission to employ more... down-to-earth tactics to ensure money flows smoothly. I give him the okay, and true to his word, the money does indeed flow.
And thus, two years after the war begins, it ends. The Earl of Teviotdale loses his last title, and becomes another nameless courtier in Lothian. I, however, reap the spoils and celebrate, for this represents my first real military victory. Granted, it was against one of my own men, and not one of the King's men, but it still counts. In addition, it means I now have total control over all of my duchy. No petty earls eating up men and money in my lands, it's all under one theoretical roof.
And I couldn't be happier.
I dismiss the levies and sit back to relax for a while. I ask for the latest news from the spymaster, and he says that something rather interesting occurred just as our war ended.
He tells me the Norwegian war on England has abruptly ended, without a clear victor. I am quite surprised by this news, as I had expected Norway to at least occupy some lands before they were beaten out by the Norman duke, but apparently not. Not once have my men seen a Norwegian flag fly over English borders, and so ends their claim on England. I feel a bit sad for our Norwegian neighbors, but at the same time, England stands under an English king, which means it might be easier to take later.
On that note, the Spymaster continues to say that the Norman invasion is ongoing, but is doing so rather slowly. It's been six years, but the duke has barely managed to siege more then the duchy of Kent. The capital of Winchester has fallen, however, but at this stage, it's unsure how much that might mean for the war. I still expect Normandy to win, as the initial news of their numbers was simply unbelievable. Some of my men estimated that he drew in more than 15,000 people for his invasion. But that was six years ago, so those men could be anywhere by now...
Looking closer at the news confirms my initial suspicions. The famed "Hard Ruler" of Norway had died, and with him his claim. The report said nothing more than the fact he died maimed and crippled, so I inferred that he had been leading troops during one of his ill-fated assaults on England, and lost a leg during the battle. Such wounds can hurt for far longer than most, and it's possible that lost limb cost him his life. In any case, Norway has a new ruler, for whatever good that does me.
The leaves change color, and as the red on the trees grows, so does news of a red-flag revolt against my liege. Rebels are rebels are rebels, I suppose, and I see no reason why I should have to worry about a revolt against the King in Dunbar...
I call a map of the demesne, and scream. The court is frozen solid in their seats. Dunbar is in MY lands!!!!!
My eyes shift west and I scream again, louder this time. While I wasn't looking, my liege had swooped in and taken Carrick. My inept Chancellor had cost me my chance to do battle against a weak country, and now the newfound Earl of Carrick has the chance to secure alliances within the realm.
This is bad.
And to make matters worse, our levies are not yet fully replenished from the war with Teviotdale, and we don't nearly have the men to fight off the rebels, nor do we have the money to support more mercenaries.
But just as my worries were boiling over, my liege's men march into the offending county and begin quashing the revolt. I breathe a sigh of relief, and I retire to my room for several days.
The Chaplain allows some church men into the castle, however, and they accost me for money. I see no way to get peace so I oblige them and let them leave with a percentage of my treasury.
And as 1073 begins to turn to 1074, the rebellion is defeated. The land is at peace, and I decide to do some administrating in the land.
First I scour my new land in Teviotdale for men. Thankfully the cities and bishoprics are well staffed, and I find the men I need. In one swift motion I send letters to my Chancellor and Chaplain informing them that they have been replaced, and I appoint two MUCH more suited men to their positions, and I keep the Chaplain in the capital, tending to the ex-Chaplain, and I send my new Chancellor to Carrick to forge those documents. He took to his task with an air of professionalism that I couldn't help but appreciate.
Things are beginning to look up.
In fact, things are looking up so much that I decide to create a proper celebration.
A feast should do the trick. And a proper feast, with all the nobles of the land in attendance.
While mulling over the food possibilities, I decide that this should be a show of my temperance to the people of the land. Sadly, I couldn't keep up much of a show of temperance, and I kept squirreling away little snacks here and there from the menu.
I invite all my vassals, high and low, to come.
But one of the mayors bluntly refuses my gracious invitations. The bastard.
Everyone else agreed to come, though. And the party begins!
As the feast drags on, someone is bound to complain. Apparently my show of temperance wasn't enough for them, and they complained about it to my face. Heathens, the lot of them!
Regardless, people enjoyed the feast, and left happy. I felt that this was a good idea in the long run.
Soon after, however, boats bearing Norse crests are spotted outside the capital, and viking raiders run in to loot the capital. Thankfully, the levies were replenished, to fighting them back was easy and bloodless (for us, at least).
The steward then offered me a letter with another tithe enclosed. This prompted thoughts of more long-term improvements...
The treasury is finally in a stable state, and I made the decision to begin improving my castles. First I give the order to raise the walls around the castle. It won't be by much, but it'll be enough to keep some invaders out.
Speaking of war, my liege finally decides he wants the island capital of Søreyar. It's been almost four years since the war for Argyll, though, so who knows what might happen.
Ah, I had almost forgotten, Søreyar and Norway were still buddies. Apparently the death of the claimant on England hadn't broken off any alliances, so Norway came to the aid of the three-province minor. My liege was in some proper trouble now.
Back on the home front, people are upset about the taxes. I privately imagine sending them a great big royal finger while I give the order to continue the castle upgrades with improving the fortifications.
And then some progress!
My Chancellor had done his job well, and I immediately send a herald to Carrick to warn him of my boot coming for his ass.
Sadly, it seems his ass is not only bare, but protruding and waiting. The kicking then commences.
It just keeps getting better and better, Carrick's forces come at us in almost single-file, allowing us to flank them on both sides.
Surprisingly they were almost able to push through the center, but regardless they fell to the cavalry in the flanks.
After several rounds of skirmishes, their forces are finally ended once and for all. Carrick will soon be mine.
My liege, however, has issues. A LOT of issues. his army was chased out of the capital, and his occupation is being challenged. Eventually the remnants of the Scottish army will have to face that Norwegian death-stack, and it will not be pretty.
Meanwhile, we agree to have someone compose a small snippet of our family's achievements. We don't let the pride go to our heads, though, as we're still only several people strong in the Dunbar dynasty.
The year is 1077, and Carrick falls to our superior numbers. Celebrations abound!
But the real party poppers are being saved for this moment, when I can create the duchy of Strathclyde. All that's stopping us from creating it and giving us a free claim on Søreyar is the cost.
The year ticks over, and my eldest daughter comes of age. She was taught the fine skills of a money-counter, and makes a decent spymistress, to boot, so I start to look for nearby alliances I can forge with her.
It seems... That Normandy's War with England has ended, but not as I had thought.
England still stands, but so does Normandy. Apparently the duke from France wasn't able to hold England, and lost the vast majority of it back to the old ruling dynasty. It happened so quickly I never even noticed it. This puts Normandy in a very awkward situation, as they're now sandwiched between two major powers, a vengeful England and a hungry France.
I guess we're not going to try for a Norman alliance, then.
Instead we settle for a future alliance with the Welsh Duke of Deheubarth. Perhaps he can be of some use later.
And with my daughter married off, the treasury swells to the point where we can create that duchy.
And so I become a double duke, ruling over Lothian and
Galloway. This addition to my titles makes me the strongest vassal of Scotland by far, and we now own most of Scotland south of the capital.
Perhaps now we look into that elective monarchy idea...