The Let's Play Archive

Medieval II: Total War - A Scotsman In Egypt

by Jerusalem

Part 67: A Scotsman In Egypt - Chapter 66

Domnall sat high on the wall looking out over the seemingly endless stretch of desert, his face glum, his shoulders hunched.

"What are ye doing up here, lad?" asked a familiar voice, and Domnall turned to look at his Uncle, the King of Scotland - Edward Canmore.

"Just thinking, Uncle," the young Scottish Prince - barely 11 years old.

"Aye?" asked Edward with a slight smirk,"Thinking? Or hiding from ye cousin, Adam?"

Domnall's eyes widened in surprise, and Edward's smile widened.

"How did ye ken?" asked Domnall, surprised.

"I'm the King of Scotland, I ken everything," Edward spoke darkly, then a huge grin broke across his face,"Plus, ye Father told me... now HE does ken everything, nae forget it, lad."

Domnall smiled uncertainly, and Edward pulled himself onto the wall to sit alongside his nephew, smiling fondly at him.

"So ye cousin beat ye down in the training field again, eh?" asked Edward,"That must rankle."

"It's nae fair," sniffed Domnall,"He's almost fully grown."

"Aye, it's nae fair," chuckled Edward,"And I think it's about time something was done about it."

"IT'S TIME TO END THIS, DOMNALL CANMORE!" roared Istok from the walls of Constantinople, breaking the Scottish King from his reverie.


Again, Domnall felt the weight of the eyes of his men on him, and the eyes of Angus the Mauler most of all. They were all waiting and hoping that their King would prove the rumors wrong, that he was scared of Hungary's Istok, that he knew he could not best a man noted for being undefeated in personal combat.

They would have to wait.

"Bombards, fire on the walls on my command!" Domnall called out, and saw the shoulders of his men sag, and the building rage in Angus' eyes. In Hew Mar's face he saw only concern, but also the same question - was Domnall a coward?

"PATHETIC!" snarled Istok, as the jeers rose up from his men,"Come then, throw away the lives of your men on the walls of Constantinople, and when none are left and only you remain, I'll take great delight in squeezing every inch of your coward's blood from your neck!"

"Fire," ordered Domnall, his face blank and his eyes unreadable.

And the Battle for Constantinople began.

As the walls came tumbling down, Domnall raised his sword and gave the order for his men to do what he had been unwilling to do - ride on the walls of Constantinople.


"Stand here, lad," chuckled Edward good naturedly as he poked his head around the corner of the wide, lengthy corridor within the palace at Cairo,"Adam will be coming from his studies soon, when he turns the corner, stand in his way and dinnae let him pass."

"But he'll give me a beating," gasped Domnall.

"He'll try, aye," grinned Edward,"I'll be hiding in the next room, when he makes to strike ye, I'll step out and give him the fright of his life! Let's see how he likes it when someone bigger, older and stronger gives him a beating!"

"Aye, Uncle!" gasped Domnall in delight.

"Adam will be returning to Edinburgh soon enough to be with his Father," smiled Edward,"We cannae have him going thinking he has the better of ye, eh lad?"

"Nae, Uncle!" laughed Domnall, hopping from foot to foot, excited. Edward ruffled his hair affectionately, then opened the door to one of the many large rooms set aside for visiting diplomats and closed it all but a crack,"Remember, dinnae let him pass!"

Left alone in the corridor, Domnall suddenly felt very small. He was still only a boy, and Adam was so close to being a man... but then he remembered his Uncle and King was standing nearby and felt ten foot tall.

So when Adam Canmore turned the corner, striding self-importantly on with a bow-legged old tutor struggling to keep up, it was all that Domnall could do not to launch himself directly into his older cousin and try to beat him down himself.


The cavalry passed through the blasted open gates of Constantinople while the infantry charged forward towards the breach in the wall. Their orders were simple, barked with fury by Angus the Mauler after Domnall's initial command - ride in, find the Hungarians and kill every last one of them!

"Is Canmore amongst them?" Istok asked his Generals as their men flooded out of the central city square down the slope into the Scottish.

"No, your Majesty," grunted Byrta contempteously,"He sits outside holding his Hound on its leash while his faithful lapdog sits at his side."

"Their numbers are roughly the same as ours?" asked Istok.

"Roughly," nodded Byrta.

"Then kill theirs until there are none but Canmore and his dogs left," hissed Istok angrily,"And if I have to, I will fight through The Mauler and Mar both to get to him.... Domnall Canmore will die by my hands this day, and none other. Make it clear to the men, he is MINE!"


"What do ye want, Dumbnall?" snapped Adam angrily as he turned the corner and found Domnall standing in his path. Tall for his age, Adam was naturally gifted physically but had a tendency towards sloth when he wasn't being drilled by his tutors and trainers. For the last few weeks he had been bragging to Domnall and Nectan that he would live better than Uncle Edward once he returned to Edinburgh, and that the people there called his father Alexander the King IN Scotland.

Domnall just grinned, his body trembling with excitement at the idea that the bully would finally be put into his place. He was too excited to talk, and simply stood staring directly at Adam, who was impatient at the best of times.

"Bah, I dinnae have time for this! Out of the way or I'll walk over ye!" grunted Adam.

"My Prince, surel-" started the elderly tutor behind Adam, but the young Prince shushed him to instant silence, storming forward with his arm raised to strike Domnall. The boy stood his ground, waiting eagerly for Uncle Edward to burst out of the diplomat's room and smash Adam off of his feet.

The first blow caught him upside the head, and the next sunk deep into his belly, knocking the wind out of him. Domnall whooped in sudden shocked pain, and Adam drove his heel into the back of Domnall's knee, dropping him into a kneeling position. Grabbing Domnall by the side of the head, Adam launched him against the wall and out of his way.

"Stay clear of me, Dumbnall," sneered Adam,"Next time I will nae go so easy on ye."

The elderly tutor stayed behind for a second, staring uncertainly at Domnall, then rushed after Adam, struggling to keep up to him.

And Domnall lay curled in the fetal position, gasping for air and tears running down his cheeks, in tremendous physical pain but more concerned with an unanswered question.

Where was Edward Canmore?


"Word has come back that our men are struggling to push over the hill into the square, my King," Hew reported, as Angus sat scowling and muttering darkly to himself.

"You and Angus will ride in with your bodyguard to provide support," Domnall ordered coolly,"I want the road clear."

"Finally, at least some of us will be seeing action today," hissed Angus angrily, and ordered his men to prepare. As Hew moved to do the same, Domnall spoke unexpectedly.

"Hew," he said quietly,"A word."

Minutes later, Angus and Hew crashed their men up the sides of their own beleaguered cavalry and into the flanks of the Hungarians.

"AHHHHH! KILL! KILLLL!" screamed Angus, practically frothing at the mouth as he released his rage and tension and disappointment on the Hungarians.

"DRIVE THEM BACK!" roared Byrta, finding himself amongst the Scottish frontline,"DO NOT LET THEM PASS!"

"Oh I'll have ye!" snarled Angus with cruel delight, and rode his horse directly towards the Hungarian General. As the two sides of horsemen struggled and fought up the slope of the road, the Infantry rushing up to buttress them.

"PUSH BACK!" roared Byrta, as Angus slashed down the group of Hungarians who had thought to ambush him as he chased Byrta,"ALL MEN IN, PUSH THEM BACK DAMN YOUR EYES!"

Sitting in the square, Istok watched as his men emptied the courtyard and rushed to add their numbers and weight, and felt a keen disappoint wash over him. Domnall Canmore was not going to come, he would have to kill all the Scottish first and then hunt the coward down. This wasn't what he wanted, he'd wanted a glorious battle to prove his rightful place as the "successor" to Edward Canmore.

So be it.

Angus screamed in triumph as Byrta fell to his blade, and the Scottish Infantry pushed up against the Hungarians, straining to send them backwards so they could crest the hill and flood into the City Centre. Angus lifted his sword to give the order, and then suddenly from behind him came Hew's voice, clear and filled with authority.... and what he said was the last thing Angus had ever expected to hear.

"MEN, STOP!" screamed the Scottish General,"BY ORDER OF THE KING.... PULL BACK!"


Domnall wasn't sure how long he lay huddled on the floor, gasping first for air and then to hold back his tears as he moaned in pain. Finally the pain receded enough for him to be aware of the world around him once more, and he looked up at the figure looming tall above him, staring down at him sadly... but kindly.

Edward Canmore.

"....," he opened his mouth, but no words came out.

"Why?" Edward suggested,"Ye want to ken why I did what I did?"

Domnall lowered his head back and again fought to hold back his tears, and Edward knelt down beside him, placing a hand on his shoulder. Domnall flinched at the touch, eyes lifting back up to Edward's, this time shining with anger.

"Good, good," chuckled the Scottish King,"Anger is good... if ye can control it. That's a difficult lesson to learn, ye Father learnt it well before I did... and Domnall, it's a lesson I've sought to teach ye today."

"Wh... what lesson?" grunted Domnall at last, sullenly, betrayed.

"To be a man means facing a fight ye cannae win," Edward explained,"To be a man means standing tall even when ye are scared. To be a man means ye dinnae let another man do ye fighting for ye. The Canmores always fight on the frontline with their troops, lad, and it's nae because we love to fight... though I do.... but because we do nae ask our men to do for us what we would nae do for them."

"B.. but Adam is bigger..." moaned Domnall,"It was nae fair!"

"And when ye are a fully grown man, lad, ye'll lead armies against superior numbers, and sometimes against superior Generals. Ye have to learn now what ye cannae afford to learn then... life is nae fair, so ye must be prepared to face it nae matter what."

He grabbed Domnall's arm and lifted him easily to his feet, supporting the boy as a wave of dizziness rolled over him.

"What lessons does Adam learn from beating ye?" asked Edward,"That he can do as he pleases with those weaker and smaller than him? I would teach the lad a lesson, but that is his Father's place, not mine."

"But ye taught ME, and I am nae ye son," moaned Domnall.

"Aye, but ye and Nectan are the closest things to it," smiled Edward,"And besides this is a lesson ye Father would never teach ye, but one he kens that ye must learn, so he gave me leave to do so."

"It was still a mean trick," pouted Domnall, struggling still to hold onto his anger at his Uncle and King.

"Aye it was, lad," smiled Edward,"Life is full of those, too... perhaps one day ye'll be the one dishing them out."


"MEN, STOP!" screamed Hew Mar,"BY ORDER OF THE KING.... PULL BACK!"

"WHAT!?!" roared Angus in disbelief.

"Pull back!" snapped Hew again, as his men looked around at him in astonishment,"Ye have ye orders, now follow them!"

Shocked, appalled... but disciplined still, the Scots broke off from fighting with the equally amazed Hungarians and slowly, hesitantly began to pull backwards down the hill. The Hungarians immediately retreated backwards as well to further secure the square against a fresh wave of potential attacks.

"What is the meaning of this madness!?!" insisted Angus, eyes bugging from their sockets and teeth clenched as a vein on his forehead throbbed prominently.

"Ye work is done, lads," spoke a new voice, quiet but full of authority and carrying to the men,"Now it is my turn."

And the men turned to see Domnall Canmore - King of Scotland - slowly marching his horse up the street towards them.

"What is this?" asked Angus, eyes wide with pleasant, hopeful surprise now,"What does this mean?"

"Only a fool would let personal honor jeopardize his men, his Kingdom and his Nation," Domnall announced by way of answer,"And only an arrogant buffoon would presume to fight for his men... as if the men of Scotland were nae capable of fighting for themselves."

He look around him at the gathered soldiers, standing amongst the dead - equal numbers Hungarian and Scottish - and saw now in their eyes a mixture of hope and a swelling of pride as they realized his refusal to fight Istok had been not an act of cowardice, but a display of confidence in his own men.

"Ye have done ye jobs," Domnall repeated,"Ye have fought ye way deep into the Capital of Hungary, ye have killed Istok's Chief General, and ye have pushed his men as far as ye can. Now - and only now - that the time is right, will I take up Istok's challenge."

"Ye... ye will?" gasped Angus, delighted.

"Oh aye, clear a path for me," smiled Domnall, and in his eyes Hew saw the cold, deep-seated rage that his King had used to take revenge on the Venetians,"After his big performances, Istok will have nae choice but to order his men to do the same. I will fight him, but on my terms, not his."

Domnall rode over the crest of the hill, down the long road past Hungarian soldiers who stood aside to stare at him, entering the central city square of Constantinople, where King Istok the Cunning sat his horse waiting.


"So you've come at last," Istok grinned, lifting the visor of his helm,"Coward."

Domnall lifted his own visor and stared directly into Istok's face, still saying nothing.

"I have never lost a fight in my life, Canmore," sneered Istok,"And my scouts told me all that rubbish you fed your troops just now... you don't fool me, you've been pissing into your armor since you received my letter and realized that your name doesn't intimidate me. You're not the man you're made out to be, Domnall Canmore, you're a pretender to the name and the crown."

Domnall looked about him, at the Hungarians and Scottish now ringing the courtyard and the two Kings, foes standing side by side for the moment, their war forgotten in their eagerness to see the confrontation between the two Kings. Domnall stared in Angus' eyes and saw the brash overconfidence that Scotland would always overcome. He stared in Hew's eyes, and saw the concern that a King was - in the end - just a man, but a man whose death could turn the tide of battle in the enemy's favor. Both sides still held roughly equal numbers, and the blow to morale should Domnall lose could easily cost them the battle. Finally he looked into Istok's eyes, and what he was there was a complete and total confidence of a man who knew he could beat his opponent.

And finally Domnall spoke.

"Istok," he said, his voice calm,"Ye're nae as scary as ye think ye are."


In Rome, Aodh Canmore came awake with a start, startling his wife Katherine in bed beside him.

"Aodh?" she asked, concerned.

"A dream, nae more," he replied, smiling reassuringly at her before lying back in the bed. He closed his eyes and his breathing soon became relaxed, measured, and before long Katherine had fallen back to sleep beside him. When he was sure that his ruse had worked, Aodh opened his eyes and lay in the bed staring at the ceiling, letting his eyes adjust to the darkness as he pondered what he had assured his wife was just a dream.

And wondered if it had instead been a portent, another vision from God like the one that had come to him years earlier and eventually led to the breaking of the Church's vast secular power.

If it was... then God help them all.


Istok sneered and lowered his visor, and Domnall did the same. The Hungarian King kicked at the flanks of his trained warhorse, and it immediately leapt forward at a run. Domnall's reaction was immediate, as he charged his own horse forward, sword drawn as he and Istok moved rapidly closer together.

Neither man broke, and their trained horses went forward despite their own instincts, the heavy animals crashing together as Istok swung his sword in a mighty overhead arc which Domnall easily ducked. He brought his own sword up toward the Hungarian's side, but Istok was all ready pulling loose a dagger with his left hand, sweeping down with the sharpened blade not for Domnall but the straps holding the saddle in place. Suddenly Domnall felt his saddle shifting beneath him, feeling the pull of his own weight back towards the ground. He flung himself bodily away, crashing to the ground and rolling along the cobblestones as Istok struggled to tear his horse free from Domnall's own.

The Scottish King rolled to his feet and looked up through narrowed eyes as Istok pulled free and charged towards his now unmounted opponent. Domnall braced, and as Istok moved to the side and swung his sword, Domnall did not move to block as expected but instead slashed at the ankles of Istok's horse, causing it to scream and tumble forward. Istok tucked his head and rolled forward off of the now useless animal, never losing his grip on his sword. He came easily to his feet and swung around, sword lifted in a high defensive position to meet Domnall's charge. The Scottish King swung his sword again and again, but Istok met each stroke easily, and Domnall gritted his teeth angrily as he heard laughter coming from behind the Hungarian's visor. Domnall was no slouch with a sword, though he was hardly a master, but every stroke he made seemed to be anticipated easily by Istok, who began to return strokes of his own, breaking Domnall's own forward momentum, halting his stride and forcing him to shift onto the defensive.

"A cowardly little boy in a pathetic old man's body!" barked Istok with laughter, driving Domnall backwards now as all around them soldiers on both sides screamed out encouragement to their King and jeers against the other. Domnall began to feel the impact of each sword stroke he blocked running up through his arm, and felt his feet tangling amongst themselves. Istok redoubled his efforts, hacking with increasing power and speed as if he did not feel fatigue or stress on his muscles. Domnall struggled to block, struggled to keep his feet, but found himself stumbling backwards, crashing to the ground on his ass, arm bracing himself as he flung his sword up to block Istok's attack.

"USELESS!" cried Istok, punctuating each word with the crashing stroke of his sword against Domnall's,"PATHETIC! EXCUSE! FOR! A! CANMORE!"

"He's going to lose," whispered Angus in horror.

"Be ready to brace the men the moment he falls," snapped Hew in a harsh, quiet whisper,"If we dinnae hold them here, the Hungarians will drive us back the length of their Nation and kill us off piecemeal before we can reach the Polish border."

With contemptuous ease, Istok followed a sword stroke with a boot that knocked the blade from Domnall's hand, leaving him completely unprotected. Istok did not waste time on theatrics like lifting his sword high, he simply plunged it straight towards Domnall's heart, knowing he could punch through the armor and..... Domnall caught the blade in his hand.

The sharp blade sheared through the thin metal of the gauntlet protecting Domnall's hand, but the Scottish King gripped tightly and then pulled, using Istok's own momentum against him to drag him forward and crashing into the ground.

Domnall pitched the sword aside and hauled himself to his feet, even as Istok rolled away and came up easily to a standing position. He grabbed his helm and pulled it free, eyes wide and a delighted grin on his face as he tossed the helm to the side, then grabbed at his gauntlets and pulled them free, leaving his hands bare.

"Not so pathetic after all," he laughed,"Good, good, I vowed you would die by my hands, it seems it will literally have to be that way."

Domnall pulled his own helm away, then his gauntlets, revealing one hand bloody from the cut the sword had given him,"Ye are welcome to try, let's see if ye can match action to words."

Again the two Kings charged each other, crashing against each other. Domnall slammed a fist into Istok's side where gaps had been left in his armor to allow mobility, but Istok seemed to absorb the blow easily, turning into it and bending to shift Domnall's weight and flip him over onto his back. He leapt on top of Domnall and landed a solid punch right into his face, then another, then another. Domnall lurched forward and unbalanced Istok, knocking him loose, and when the Hungarian King attempted to scramble back to a standing position, left himself exposed to a kick that smashed into the side of his face and dropped him straight onto his back again. Domnall stood weaving as a gasp rose from the collected soldiers watching, and then dropped to his knees, steadying himself as a wave of dizziness rolled over him.

"Doooommmnallll!" howled Istok, struggling up and staggering forward, locking his hands around Domnall's throat and squeezing. Domnall lunged to his feet and gripped Istok by the throat with his own hands, cursing as the slick blood on his cut palm conspired to loosen his grip. He felt Istok's grip tighten in response and did his best to follow suit, as both men dropped to their knees, faces turning red and then purple as they glared with hatred into each other's eyes and squeezed each other's throats, each desperate to choke the life from the other.

The gathered Hungarian and Scottish soldiers stared in disbelief at the scene before them, as they watched two Kings reduced to their knees, leaning against each other, faces purple, eyes bugging out, teeth clenched as they choked and choked the other.

Finally, inevitably, one King felt blackness creeping into his vision, felt his grip weakening on his enemy's throat. His lungs burned from lack of air, his arms felt like lead weights and he knew he could go on no longer, he was beaten, he was... and then he felt the grip around his throat slacken, and with one last burst of energy he tightened his own grip and squeezed and squeezed and choked and choked until, at last, it was done.

A King was dead.

The hands no longer around his throat, the surviving King fell forward on top of his opponent, unwilling to release his grip on his opponent's throat until he was sure it was done. Finally, he released his grip and struggled to his knees, sucking in great lungfuls of air, fighting off the dizziness and blackening of vision as he attempted to regain his senses. He rose from knees to a crouch, hands on thighs, panting deeply before finally lifting to a full standing position and drawing in one final last great lungful of breath.

He stared around him at the gathered soldiers - his own men and the enemy - and finally he spoke, pointing at his enemies and giving the final order of the Battle of Constantinople.

"Kill them all."