Part 15: End Timesambition achieved: gain SA forums avatar (+1 diplomacy, +50 prestige). thank you to whoever was responsible
"These are the end times."
The mad knight speaks. His eyes are not crazed, as the listeners hope. The world refuses that simplicity.
"These are the end times," he says again. "The Holy Catholic Church is ending. The laws and lands of Europe are ending. Crowns and nations are ending. And you should be proud, o Duke, for your deeds were foretold and confirmation of my truth."
"What do you mean?" said the old man atop his throne. His maimed hand rests upon the great white dog who sits by his side.
"The crown of the North shall shatter.
The lands of the East will burn.
The kings of the West will turn from God.
The people of the South will serve."
"The East fell. You, like the rest of the world, dismissed the coming of the Mongol Hordes as fear and superstition."
"And then they came, to conquer the Muslims, and you explained it as a punishment from God to the heathens."
"My concerns were domestic," said the old Duke. "I was contemplating rising against King Magnus, with the aid of the Imperial Kaiser, but he had his own alliance with the Emperor. To do so was doomed."
"Instead I worked to strengthen my position in the realm, and deal with his successor."
"Yes!" said the Knight, clapping his hands. "I remember! I made sure to remember all your family's fine tales."
"You brought war to Duke Knud, and you were amazed by the size of his armies. The Dukes of Skane had, for centuries, been investing in their realm and technological innovation. Their lands were a cultural locus!"
"And out of sentimentalism, you hired the Great Company in honour of their long alliance with your family, and together confronted the armies of the Duke."
"A crushing victory, one well remembered and well storied. And what is just as remembered is why you chose that particular county to seize."
"This was the last holding of the Ylving line. With this, they were nothing more than a landless collection of nobles, destined to die out in poverty and destitution. You finally succeeded, Duke Half-Hand! The vendetta your family carried for two hundred years was finally accomplished!"
The maimed Duke smiled. "My deeds were not so great - I commanded a mercenary company to go forth and bring me victory, and this they did. True praise lies with my honoured ancestors who shattered the Ylvings in the first place. This was but the last gasp of a defeated foe."
"But the news," said the Knight, suddenly manic again, "from the other side of the world was not good."
"The Mongols had sacked the city of Mecca, denying the Hajj to all faithful Muslims."
"Their empire was already vast and terrible, and none had yet been able to stop their immense onslaught."
"Oh-ho, not for lack of trying. The Caliph rallied the Muslims and rode to stop the devastation and reclaim Mecca, but the effort was futile."
"His armies, which had twice defeated the combined might of Christendom, were crushed by the hordes. The Islamic world burned, and the world could do naught but tremble, for worse - far worse - was coming."
"Another onslaught, from the north this time, just as large and terrible as the first. And only pagans stood between them and Sweden."
"And the Prophecy's other tenants were coming true. Cathar Hungary was destabilising the Kingdom of Christ. The Kings of Poland, Navarra and Portugal had also converted, and before the decade was out the King of France would embrace the Fratrecelli heresy. The Pope's authority was falling apart."
"The Russian Principalities had likewise collapsed. Scandinavia, united, was the last catholic bastions in the North.
"But you put an end to that, didn't you Duke Sygtryg?"
"It was time," said the maimed duke stoically. "King Magnus had finally died, after seventy three years of life and fifty years daring to wear the Crown of Denmark, which he had stolen from my family."
"And he had passed it down to," and here the Duke's voice was angry, "the son who he was so certain would defeat me in battle. The son who was an arrogant, elderly, corpulently obese drunkard."
"I made no speeches, no demands, no commandments, no denouncements. I simply let it be known that this would not stand, and any who agreed may come join me."
"They tried to reason with him, at first, but King Ossor did not take to demands kindly."
"So they came. But as I am a Christian and an honourable man, I went to see the King first and demand he step down."
"But the final straw - the drunken bastard declared he was going to wed my firstborn daughter."
"The Ylvings learned the importance of family to House Hvide. The Ynglings had to be taught the same lesson."
"All of Denmark stood with me - with the notable exception of Duke Fucking Mikkel's daughter, who was celebrating her fortieth birthday and her thirty-eighth consecutive year of prison, and who consequently didn't get the invitation."
"Indeed, the revolt was so immense and one-sided, involving half of Norway along with all of Denmark, that the battle was scarcely necessary."
"But we held it, just to ensure the matter was settled."
"And so you broke the Crown of Denmark," said the Knight. "And it was not long after that you saw what that meant."
"The legal system collapsed. The freed Dukes committed to their independence, and they refused to recognise you as the rightful heir to the throne."
"I'd be surprised if they did," said the maimed Duke. "I was on death's door."
"Let us be clear here. I am not a great liberator or a champion of any kind. I am a crippled old man who lead an overwhelmingly vast army to defeat an elderly drunkard, and nearly died afterwards. In my family alone, there are a hundred heroes more worthy of song and praise. In the world, there are a thousand more."
"Is that so?" said the Knight.
"For I have travelled the world, and I have seen fallen France, fallen Poland, fallen Hungary, fallen Spain."
"I have seen fallen Arabia, fallen Persia and fallen Russia. And now I stand here in fallen Denmark.
"I don't praise you because I am mad, no sir," said the Knight. "I praise you because the world itself has fallen. The hordes come. Plague, war, famine and death will ride across the lands and slaughter all of Europe. And you, Sygtryg Half-Hand, Duke of Slesvig, are the last holy man in all the world. And when you pass, the light of virtue will go out for-ever and none will come after you.
"I come here because these are the end times, and your light will be the last to go out before Europe is engulfed in eternal darkness."
The mad knight bowed to the maimed Duke, once, and left.
And the Duke slept a troubled sleep that night.
- 150 Gold
- 1 Duchy, 2 counties, 2 baronies, 3 count vassals, 5 other vassals.
- Plenty of room for immediate expansion, and the Crown of Denmark if we are lucky.
- A nice view of the end of the world.
- Sweet Neckbeard