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Subject: Honor on the Field, 18

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Date Posted: Tuesday, November 22, 10:18:43am
In reply to: Nell 's message, "Honor on the Field, con't." on Wednesday, November 16, 09:49:08am

~*~*~*~*~*~*~Chapter 18 ~*~*~*~*~*~*~

December, 1362
Rouen, France

“And that’s what happened, m’lord.” Walter sighed and shook his head sadly. “I can’t believe Phillip didn’t let her go when he was asked.”

“How did Nikita take it?” Samuelle asked.

“Badly.” Walter smirked sourly. “She went to her room and didn’t come out for a week. When Sir Phillip went to roust her out, she’d barred the door. When he ordered her to come out and attend to her duties, she told him he could bloody well manage his own household.”

Samuelle laughed to cover the hollow in his chest where he ached for Nikita in her disappointment. “And Michelle?”

“Sat around complaining that no one was interested in her problems. She went and begged Nikita to come out too, but that didn’t work either because she finished off by saying who would want to be a craftsman’s wife anyway?”

“But she came out in the end?”

“Yeah – poor girl. She had to, really, couldn’t stay in her room forever. But when I left, she still wasn’t speaking to her father or her sister, though, to their credit, they were both of them practically groveling for her to please start acting like herself again, saying how sorry they were she was unhappy and what could they do to make her happy again.”

“Short of letting her marry Wellman.”

“Short of that, yeah.”

Samuelle realized, somewhat to his shame, that thinking Wellman to be a coward and a fool pleased him immensely, despite sincerely mourning his loss for Nikita’s sake. But, however much he was troubled by the suspicion that his own behavior during his last visit to Marlborough had contributed to Phillip’s ruling, he did not have much thought to spare for Nikita’s plight.

A month after leaving Marlborough, his cousin Charles summoned Samuelle to Paris. The fighting over the succession in Brittany had reached the point that Charles had convinced his father it was time to back Charles du Blois, one of the principle claimants to that kingdom, in his struggle against the English-backed John of Breton. In the 1360 treaty, England had signed away any further rights of suzerainty over Brittany; for Edward III to be openly backing a claimant to the disputed kingdom did not strike Charles or the rest of the generals of France, including Samuelle, as abiding by the spirit of that agreement. Charles, now acting more or less in his father’s name, had therefore decided to bring France in behind du Blois.

Jean’s opinion, as far as Samuelle could tell, had been hard to acquire. Jean was still wringing his hands over the way Louis and the other hostages to Jean’s word had abandoned their posts, broken their own faith, and returned to France. All Jean could think or talk about was the loss of honor to himself and France that resulted, which meant that getting him to focus on other issues was a near impossible challenge. But by dint of endless patience, Charles had managed to secure his father’s – somewhat abstracted – blessing.

Aiding and abetting Charles’s decision to enter the war in Brittany was Bertrand du Guesclin’s decision to stand with du Blois. Du Guesclin, himself a Breton, was fast earning a reputation as one of the most successful military commanders in France. Samuelle had known du Guesclin from his own earliest years on the tournament circuit, where du Guesclin himself had been a notable contender in his day as a scorned younger son. In an incident already cloaked with lore, du Guesclin , thrown out of his father’s house for failing to be handsome enough for gallantry, had earned his own spurs, and his father’s respect, by entering a tournament anonymously, clad in a friend’s armor, and then conquering the field.

Despite, or perhaps because of, his success in the tournament and his love of the grand chivalric gesture, du Guesclin did not confuse the honor and chivalry of the games with business of war. This sentiment had earned him Samuelle’s respect and admiration, as well as cemented a fast friendship between them. So Samuelle was pleased to bring Rouen in behind du Blois, and to be planning to spend the next fighting season at du Guesclin ’s side.

Another important factor in Samuelle and his cousins’ decision to aid du Blois was their collective, and quite urgent, need to see the marauding “free-companies” brought under control. The “free-companies” were made up of soldiers released from the French and the English armies after the treaty in 1360 who did not choose to return to civilian life. To feed themselves, they had been pillaging undefended villages across France during the previous two summers instead. The war in Brittany was an excellent opportunity to put these men back to the only work they seemed willing to perform.

By late winter, Samuelle was again in Paris, meeting with Charles and du Guesclin to plan for the upcoming campaign. The stinging defeats delivered by the Black Prince at Crécy in 1346, and again at Poitiers in 1356, had burned deep into their collective memories. For Samuelle, Poitiers held particular significance. After his capture by the Black Prince at the side of his king, he had learned that the magnificence of the British long bowman had made him his father’s heir. Under the leadership of du Guesclin and Charles, they were all of them determined not to see these losses repeated.

If the trip to Pairs happened to take Samuelle away from Rouen during the first anniversary of the deaths of Simone and the children, no one mentioned the coincidence to him. That he stayed away even longer as he sought out those “free-companies” that had menaced his own villages and people over the previous summer and pitched the opportunity to pillage Brittany instead, seemed only sensible.

Returning to Rouen to conclude what business he could before leaving to join the armies in du Guesclin’s seat of Dinan, Nikita’s troubles had faded into distant memory, when they burst into Samuelle’s life in a wholly unexpected way in the middle of March.

A messenger arrived from Marlborough, bearing a short, and quite astounding, letter.

My Lord Rouen,

Some time ago you invited me to join you on your journeys. If your offer is still open, I would be very pleased to accept.

Your servant,

Nikita Wirth.


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Subject Author Date
So glad to see you back (r)SisTuesday, November 22, 10:30:44am
Interesting...stephTuesday, November 22, 01:05:05pm
ETA: a bit of historical trivia (r)NellTuesday, November 22, 01:58:20pm
Fantastic...JuliTuesday, November 22, 10:48:36pm
"Fate"OpaliaWednesday, November 23, 01:42:56am
Thank you and Happy ThanksgivingPyewackettWednesday, November 23, 06:03:13pm

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