As a special Friday treat, Ryk Perry brings us the long-anticipated second chapter in the tale Sir Reimund, a landless knight who knows he has to fight for every scrap of coin and respect. When we last left Reimund, he’d won a battle against some mercenaries when a messenger arrived bearing news that Reimund’s brother had died.
Sir Reimund’s Tale, Chapter 2 – Homecoming
by Ryk Perry
Sir Reimund emerged from the wood to look upon his family’s fief, or what had once been his family’s fief. The land had been enfeoffed by the Baron of Steilbar to Reimund’s grandfather over fifty years ago. The cart track he was on led down to a broad swathe of farmland, over thirteen hides, which abutted a small ridge to the south. To the east the land was bordered by a wide creek and the west border ended somewhere in the woods from whence he had just emerged. To the north there was a shallow stream and beyond that another lord’s demesne.
Reimund couldn’t even remember that lord’s name now. Or had the son taken over? It had been a long time since Reimund had visited, almost a decade since he had lived here. After Reimund was knighted he had left his father’s lands to seek his own fortune, the path of so many younger sons. He had not seen much of his brother since then.
Reimund and Vinzent had been close as boys, though Vinzent was the elder by five years. At fourteen Vinzent had gone off to one of their father’s friends to squire. Reimund stayed at the estate and when he turned fourteen, he served as squire to both his father and his newly knighted brother. Reimund had even squired for Vinzent at a tournament once, but that had been a long time ago, shortly before his father had knighted him.
And then he had left.
He could have stayed on the land with his father and brother, for a while at least, but that would only burden his family and offer him no real opportunity. He needed income to maintain himself as a knight should, more than his father’s lands could provide to a second son. His brother already used his father’s destrier for tourneys. Thirteen hides did not yield enough to purchase two destriers, let alone three. Nor would thirteen hides outfit three knights in armor and weapons and retainers and squires. He could have stayed, but not as a knight.
And his brother had married. Their father was on good terms with the baron and had secured permission for Vinzent to take a wife, and thus the baron had implicitly blessed Vinzent’s inheritance of the land. Presumably the baron would have allowed either of them to inherit, but for the land to pass to Reimund, it would mean that both Sir Harald, his father and Vinzent must be dead. And with Vinzent married, a fourth generation might stand to inherit. Reimund felt like nothing so much as a vulture circling the outskirts of the manor.
So he had left with a gift of a solid palfrey and a sturdy sword from his father and a rather small shirt of mail that his brother had won at a tourney. His shield he had made himself and he had no lance. He had no squire, no retainers and only one horse. Worse, he had no income. He was an unknown, landless knight with few prospects. Yet he was young and eager and hungry and he worked hard to build his reputation with the meager hope that his reputation and service would be rewarded with a grant of land of his own. None of that would be gained by staying at his father’s estate.
And so, save for a few short visits, he had stayed away for nine years of war and tourney. Now he had his own squire and retainers; he had two destriers and three palfreys of his own and mounts for his retainers as well. His armor and weapons were in good repair and he had gold in his purse. He was much better off than when he left, but he still had no lands, no revenue. His wealth always inextricably linked to the last battle he had fought. One unfortunate outcome and all that wealth could be lost, if he even survived.
Vinzent had not survived his last battle. His death demanded vengeance but Reimund did not yet know who was to blame. His brother had been slain by raiders on his own lands and those lands were leagues away from any holdings that didn’t also owe fealty to the Markgraf of Anhalz. Sir Rurik had only the court gossip and stories brought by the messenger who had delivered the news. It was certain that there was a raid, but the culprits were said to have been monstrous. The messenger had told Hoesfeld that Sir Vinzent was felled by a giant, taller even than a mounted knight.
No one believed him. Giants on the Markgraf’s lands? They lived to the far north if they even existed at all. Charlemagne and his paladins had long ago driven such monsters beyond the borders of the Frankish Empire. More likely men who were ashamed for letting their lord die in some cattle raid were making up stories to cloak their guilt.
Whoever the raiders were, Reimund intended to settle them permanently.
Reimund and Konstantin had ridden hard for six days since Sir Rurik gave him the news of his brother’s death, changing horses and even using destriers as remounts. He had left Gervas and Lars to shepherd the prisoners back to Hoesfeld’s castle and to collect the fee. They would come to join him as soon as they were able. Yet even with all that haste, Sir Reimund would be unable to do much except plan his vengeance.
His brother had already been buried. The news of his death had taken almost two weeks to reach him, since no one on the estate had known exactly where he was. In fact he hadn’t been to the estate since his brother’s wife had died childless almost two years ago. He didn’t even know if his brother had remarried, or sired a child.
That would be the first thing to do upon reaching the manor, find out if Vinzent had an heir of his body. Or a widow to whom he could offer his condolences. And if his brother did have other family, he must ensure their safety from further raids. And then he would avenge his brother.
Reimund’s musings had occupied his thoughts to nearly the footstep of the manor. He could see now that Vinzent had added a log palisade about the grounds. That bespoke serious raiding more frequent than one unfortunate attack. But who could have done it? Raids of sufficient prevalence to require a wall would also be cause to call on the Baron’s aid for protection, or even that Markgraf’s. Yet there was no mobilization that he had heard of. Certainly, Hoesfeld was over a hundred miles away from Steilbar but Sir Rurik reported no such unrest and he had seen no evidence of raiders through any of the manors and villages he had passed.
Sir Reimund and Konstantin rode along the cart path towards a gate in the palisade. Reimund could see that a wooden platform had been raised behind the wall next to the gate. There was a sentry posted on that platform and he had already seen the two riders approaching. Reimund could now hear commotion behind the walls. In light of their lord’s death, the people of the manor were going to be touchy with outsiders. Reimund’s long absence might mean that he would not be quickly recognized by those who knew him.
He had several lances on the pack horses, but he wasn’t carrying one. A lance would suggest militant purpose, especially since he had no banner to stream from it. In fact his surcoat was just scarred leather. He had not been granted the right to a coat of arms of his own, and it was not yet certain he would be allowed to bear his father’s arms as Vinzent had. As a result no one was likely to realize that Sir Vinzent’s brother had come to call.
They were within easy bowshot of the palisade when someone finally called down “What is your business here?”
Reimund had decided not to declare himself until he had a better picture of what additional troubles plagued the manor. He raised his right hand palm outward “I would speak with Bernd.”
“He’s not here. What is your business with him?” From the impudence of his tone, the speaker must have concluded that he was addressing a man-at-arms rather than a knight, a foolish conclusion given that Reimund was accompanied by a squire and four spare horses.
“Then send for Konrad if he still lives.” Konrad was his father’s most trusted man-at-arms who had retired to be an able steward of the household. Bernd was his father’s chief huntsman and father himself to Lars. Reimund was afraid that age would have done for Konrad and so asked for Bernd first. But either way he needed someone who knew him as Vinzent’s brother and had some authority within the manor.
“What is your business with him?” the sentry called again.
“Damn your eyes man! My business is my own! Now send for Konrad lest you find my boot up your ass!” Not the most politic response, but Reimund had great anger within him and would not be stymied by a cretinous sentry who could not tell when a knight had arrived at his gate. That anger was properly directed at whoever had killed his brother, but this hapless sentry was doing an admirable job of drawing it onto himself.
“I’ll send for him or not, only after I’ve learned your business!”
“Knight’s do not share their business with gate guards! I have not even asked for admittance beyond your gate, just words with your steward. Now send for him or by Mithras I’ll scale that wall and give you the beating you deserve!”
No reply came. Reimund waited for long minutes until finally a voice tempered on both drill and battlefield called “This is a house in mourning! We are not seeking new swords at this time!” Reimund could barely make out a new figure on the platform next to the sentry.
“And what about old swords for an unforgiving taskmaster?”
“Ha! Reimund you rascal! I wasn’t sure if our message would find you.” The old man turned to the sentry and commanded that the gate be opened for their guests. With a minimum of grumbling the sentry complied.
The gate now open, Reimund could finally see the manor where he was raised. A long wooden hall with a stone addition at its far end stood almost 30 yards from the gate. To the left were smaller wooden buildings where the lord’s servants lived and worked. To the right he could see sheds and hovels where the lord’s livestock was kept as well as the stable for the knight’s mounts. In the center of the yard was a well and just to the left of the stone portion of the hall were the communal brick ovens. Some of the buildings were new construction, moved apparently so that they could be enclosed by the palisade, but the rest looked just as they had for decades.
There were quite a few people inside the stockade and many were armed. Spears, axes and even a few old crossbows were visible, but the only sword in the stockade was the one worn by the weathered old man gingerly descending the ladder from the platform. He finally reached the bottom and turned to his visitor “So Sir Reimund has finally come home, eh? It does my heart good to see one of Sir Harald’s sons again in his manor.”
“And is there a lady of the manor, to whom I can offer my condolences?”
“No. You were Sir Vinzent’s only family. Come inside, into the hall and we shall speak more.”
Inside the hall Sir Reimund and Konrad sat at the largest of the tables near the fire, abutting the mason-work addition. Konstantin had been sent to the stables to care for the horses. Konrad cast a reproving look towards his former pupil. “You know if you had just given your name to the man at the gate, you could have avoided a great deal of ill-will from both sides.”
Reimund looked at the man who had been steward to both his father and his brother and who had acted as drill master to most of the men trained on the manor over the last few decades. “That’s true I suppose, but what did I know of the situation here? Vinzent is dead by unknown parties. A palisade has been raised on a manor which has been without a wall for at least a hundred years. I have heard no word of any muster being called for war so that suggests that these troubles are being suffered here alone. Perhaps they are being directed to this manor? Perhaps by someone who specifically desired the death of Vinzent and would likewise desire my death? Perhaps by someone who already controlled the manor and hid behind its wall?”
Reimund shifted back in his chair “Had I given my name I could well have received a crossbow bolt for my trouble.”
“Well, you nearly drove Will to the same end, with every one on edge from the raids.” Konrad gazed thoughtfully at his pupil from under bushy eyebrows. “Still, your caution was well placed considering the troubles we’ve had here.”
“Tell me of them.” Reimund leaned forward again, intent.
Konrad paused as a servant brought over mugs of ale, hunks of bread and bowls of steaming stew. “This will be thirsty work.”
The old man leaned back and sipped his mug before he began his tale. “The first raid was last year; a few cattle driven off and sacks of grain stolen in the night after harvest. Bernd tracked them of course but they headed south over the ridge onto bare rock and never reappeared.”
“Bernd must have been quite upset.” Reimund knew that Bernd was an exceptional tracker, probably even better than Lars, and would have been infuriated to have quarry vanish on him, particularly quarry that was driving cattle and carrying heavy sacks of grain.
“Oh, he was. He was. But Sir Vinzent was not terribly dismayed. The manor could survive the loss well enough and he assumed that it was just bandits in the wasteland south of the ridge. That wilderness has ever been inhospitable and men who go there seldom return. Sir Vinzent assumed that would be the end for these thieves.”
“But it wasn’t” Sir Reimund realized his brother’s mistake. These bandits must have come from the wasteland and so having successfully left it once, could probably leave it again. Still that land was full of wild animals and treacherous growth that could make a man lose his way in minutes. The peasants always claimed that it was haunted. Whether it was or not, no one in their right mind went there. Yet these bandits had.
“No. The bandits returned. There were several more raids over the winter, thefts really. Different villages were struck and food was stolen in the night. Livestock was rarely touched, perhaps they feared the noise that would be made, but all manner of other foodstuffs were taken. Again the losses were not crippling to the manor, though Sir Vinzent had to reduce his portion of the rents to ensure that the peasants had enough to eat.”
Reimund nodded. Some lords would have kept their rents no matter the cost to the peasants, but Sir Harald had always taught his sons that the wealth of the manor lay in its peasants. If the lord kept his portion of the rent, then the shortfall would come out of the peasant’s share. At best the peasant’s would be weakened by short rations. At worst they would suffer disease and starvation.
The lord would be forced to import new peasants and possibly pay another lord for the privilege of taking them off his lands. Far better to reduce his rents at the first sign of trouble, rather than wait several cycles and have to get new peasants. Especially since the duty of a knight was the protection of his subjects, particularly from such things as raiders and thieves. Unfortunately so many knights forgot this duty.
“Vinzent wouldn’t have wanted to keep reducing his rents because of these raiders. What did he do?”
“Well for one, he ordered the construction of this palisade. He hired more men-at-arms and bought a score of crossbows. He set up a system of sentries in the villages. Men were assigned watch shifts and given crossbows to guard the grain stores and livestock. Signal beacons were built so that a sentry could signal the manor if raiders were striking.
“A few servants were always on duty at the manor to ready the men-at-arms’ horses and they were to ride out to punish the thieves once the signals were lit.”
Reimund considered the plan. Most fiefs had several villages within their borders and usually more than a mile from the manor. Only the smallest manors held only a single village, usually around the manor itself. This was because a man who had to walk more than a mile from his home to start his work and again to return in the evening accomplished far less than a man who began work right as soon as he left his hovel.
This also meant that those villages were not easily protected by the knight who would be at the manor with his men-at-arms. Most knights’ fees could not support enough men-at-arms to garrison all the villages and that was also true of Sir Vinzent’s estate. So he had done the best he could. The furthest village was less than two miles from the manor, and a mounted man could cover than distance in less than ten minutes at a gallop, though he risked his horse in doing so, particularly at night.
Still the bandits were not mounted and they could not move fast laden with the stolen stores. Vinzent’s men-at-arms may well have been able to catch them or at least drive them off empty handed. It seemed a good plan to Reimund. “But it didn’t work?”
“Not at first, no. In fact as soon as the new sentries were implemented, the attacks stopped. The winter passed with no more raids and spring came and the watch duty was taking its toll on the men. Sir Vinzent reckoned that the bandits must have moved on to other lands or finally succumbed to the wilds with the snows.”
“And so the watches were abandoned?” Reimund did not like the picture that was emerging.
“Correct” Konrad nodded and took another pull from his mug. “The spring planting went without incident and the summer passed as well. It was not until we started gathering the harvest that the raids began again.” Konrad lowered his mug and gazed into the fireplace.
“The first harvest of barley was in and it looked to be a good one. Then a runner came to the manor in the middle of the night, pounding on the gate. The lookouts had been canceled and no one saw that a beacon had been lit. By the time Sir Vinzent arrived, the raiders were gone. The night had been dark and moonless and a large group of raiders came, and not only for food. They had never before actually attacked anyone, so we don’t know if a peasant fought back or if they came intending to kill, but three peasants were slain, four more were badly wounded and half a dozen were carried off.”
That was a hefty toll. A village on a fief might have five or six families or about thirty adults to work the nearby fields. The raiders had caused over a dozen casualties, two fifths of the village’s population. That could cripple a village and its harvest, quite aside from the horrible loss to the families. Reimund felt his anger growing.
“The survivors say they are certain that they killed at least one raider, but no body was ever found.” Konrad continued. “They had gotten away with two bullocks and several hundred pounds of grain in addition to the prisoners.”
“And tracking them?”
“Again they headed to the ridge and were lost on a stretch of bare rock. Bernd was quite beside himself.”
“In any event, the raiders were gone. Your brother reinstated the watch cycle and directed that all harvest should be brought, under guard, directly to the stores here behind the walls. The grain stores were expanded and all seemed to be progressing well.” Konrad paused and closed his eyes, “until the next raid.”
The old man opened his eyes again but they were focused on the past. “Three weeks ago the signal was lit from the same village. Sir Vinzent and the men-at-arms rode out to the village. While they were still riding, we could see other fires lit. The raiders had set fire to some of the buildings.
“The men-at-arms said that Sir Vinzent increased the pace, risking the horses in the darkness, but none were lamed. At the village they saw peasants being attacked by short, dark figures who quickly took flight when the horsemen arrived. Sir Vinzent was the first to give chase and that was when it happened.”
Konrad paused and looked Sir Reimund directly in the eyes. “I wasn’t there, but this story was told by all the men who survived the raid.” He waited until Reimund nodded his head. “They saw Sir Vinzent chase the raiders past a burning building, and then saw him thrown back off his horse as if he had been unseated by another knight. Then they saw the culprit stride from behind the hovel. In shape it was a man, but in stature, they swear it was taller than any of them, even on horseback.”
Reimund didn’t bother to hide his incredulity. Konrad raised his hand “I know. I didn’t believe the story when I first heard it either. The Paladins are supposed to have chased away all the giants and monsters from these lands under Charlemagne’s rule. But Bernd saw it too. And when daylight came, there were tracks of very large feet through out the village.”
“So what happened? If it was a giant, why didn’t it attack the rest of the men?”
“It was about to. But it was driven off.”
Konrad turned his head towards the door into the hall “By him, they say.”
Sir Reimund turned to see a figure in the doorway. The light was far brighter outside than in the hall, and the newcomer was silhouetted, surrounded by a halo of gold. Reimund could not make out anything save that he was tall and rather slender. The newcomer took a few steps into the hall and Reimund could now see the red and gold vestments of the Frankish Church. Though the newcomer was rather tall, almost as tall as Sir Reimund, he seemed too thin to be able to use the mace that hung from his belt. He had a long nose and a weak chin, and looked more suited to the role of a clerk than a foe of giants.
“A priest?” Sir Reimund said incredulously. “A priest drove off a giant where Vinzent’s men could not?”
“No, sir Reimund.” The newcomer walked towards the table. “It was God who drove off the giant. I am merely His servant. And I am a monk of the Order of St. Arghost, not an ordained priest. I am Brother Arnald.” Reimund could now see the monk had an embroidered scepter crossed diagonally behind the downward pointing sword of Charlemagne’s God.
“So you summoned your god to drive off a giant, did you? I would have thought they would make you high-priest with such power.”
“You mockery only serves to display your ignorance, knight.” The monk glared at Sir Reimund, jaw muscles clenched. “I did not summon God. I called upon one of His angels to intercede against the monster. Knowing the power of the angels, it and its minions fled.”
“Well apparently your angel arrived just in time.” Reimund’s voice was bitter.
“I am sorry that I was not able to drive off the giant sooner. Sir Vinzent was a good man.” The monk seemed genuinely pained by the loss. “But again, I did not summon an angel. They may come bodily to the world only under the most dire of circumstances. Yet they can still manifest their will against creatures of darkness.”
Sir Reimund grunted. He was no great friend of the Frankish Church. His loyalty lay with Mithras, a warrior god that the Romans brought north centuries ago before they turned to emperor worship. The priests of the Frankish Church preached that they had some great magical powers, granted to them by their one god. The Church had been established by Charlemagne, the greatest king Europe had seen in centuries. Charlemagne worshipped the one god and created an order of holy knights called Paladins who rode throughout his empire dispensing the justice of the one god.
The Church had been pushing out worship of Thor and Odin and many of the older gods ever since. At any tournament, you were as likely to see the Sword of the Church as you were the Hammer of Thor displayed by any of the knights there. The old gods rarely had priests bluster about their prowess, demanding worship. In fact they didn’t have much of an organized hierarchy at all. The Church however, was very organized. It owned its own lands and was exempted by many princes from taxes or duties. That caused many knights, even those who belonged to the Church, to be resentful.
Though Charlemagne had stopped the Romans from re-conquering most of Frankia and the Germanies, he had created his own smaller empire with a monolithic church not unlike the Romans. But at least the Frankish church didn’t worship the king as the Romans worshipped their emperor. In any event, Sir Reimund did not at all care for the Church of the Franks or their claims to magical powers.
“Bah,” Reimund turned away from the Frankian and took a long pull on his ale.
“So what is the status of the fief now, with Vinzent dead? Have they continued to raid?” Reimund looked back to Konrad, changing the subject.
“No there haven’t been any more raids. I have been running the estate, much as I did for your brother and your father. Bernd is, of course, a very stalwart ally, but Karsten, the senior man-at-arms is proving troublesome.”
“Well, Sir Vinzent had three men-at-arms before all this trouble began. Of course he also had Bernd and his assistants and could levy men from the villages, but he decided that he needed more strength until the raids were dealt with. So he hired a small group of sell-swords.” Konrad grimaced then took another drink.
Reimund nodded. Though a mercenary himself, Reimund shared Konrad’s distrust of the breed. Many mercenaries were little more than bandits who took a steady paying job in times of trouble. And when the trouble ended, and the pay was no longer forthcoming, they sometimes turned on their former employer. “So how many did he hire?”
“Four more, led by this Karsten.”
“So now that Vinzent is dead, Karsten commands more men-at-arms than you do?”
“That’s right. Helmut is the senior, you remember him?”
“Yes I do. He trounced me around the drill yard a time or two when I squired for father.”
“Aye, well he’s a little older now, but he still is a fair hand with lance or blade. Philipp and Pankraz are also good, but younger and un-blooded. Karsten and his three, though, they have all seen war and I can’t really be counted on for much at all these days.”
“Bah, you could tan all their hides with no more than a tongue lashing.”
“That’d be all I could do. And now Karsten and his group ride about the land at their leisure, abandoning the plans your brother put in place. Our only fortune is that no more raids have come since your brother died. They’ll probably be back tonight to drink our ale and eat our food and do nothing for the defense of the fief.”
“What about Vinzent’s squire? Could he not stand with Helmut and the others?”
“No, Sir Vinzent’s last squire was knighted five months ago and returned to his family. His older brother had died in a tourney the month before and he is taking over the estate. No one else has offered a son to squire, even though Sir Vinzent was once champion for the Markgraf.”
“They’ve heard of the troubles on the fief and want nothing to do with it.” Reimund knew that sending a son to squire with another knight was not only a good form of training, it also built bonds between the families of the knight and the squire. Those types of bonds demanded assistance when either family was beset.
“What about the Baron?”
“Sir Vinzent has sent to him several times, but we received only one reply, insinuating that we were scared of bogeymen here and jumping at shadows.”
“WHAT!” Reimund slammed down his stein, blood rushing to his face. “And now that my brother lies dead, has the Baron changed his tune?” Reimund growled through clenched teeth.
“Not that we have heard. He knows of Sir Vinzent’s death, but whether that has changed his disposition we have no idea.” Konrad looked sheepish. “He didn’t come to the funeral.”
If Reimund had appeared angry before, his fury now turned his face to stone. Flared nostrils and eyes alight with rage were the only clues now of Sir Reimund’s choler. In a calm, almost gentle, voice he said “A liege owes a duty of protection to his vassal, as the vassal owes service to the liege. Steilbar has failed his duty.”
“What are you considering Sir Reimund?” Konrad asked with some concern.
“Has there been any word on the disposition of the estate?”
“None that we have heard of”
“I have looked into this myself, Sir Reimund,” the Frankian joined the conversation. “One of my brethren at the Baron’s court has been asked to consult the law on the matter and it is unsettled. Though the old ways called for the estate to escheat back to the lord upon the death of the vassal, common usage in the margravate has been to allow the son to inherit. Moreover, this fief itself has passed twice from father to son. It was originally granted to your grandfather and has passed to your father and your brother. Thus the common custom and usage of this fief has been to follow the law of primogeniture for three generations which argues for its continued usage.
“Yet Sir Vinzent had no heir of his body,” the Frankian continued in a pedantic tone “suggesting that that usage must fail. However for all of Sir Vinzent’s worldly goods and personal property, as you are his brother, you are his heir.” The Frankian looked pointedly at Sir Reimund. “Thus a very strong argument can be made that through the usage of primogeniture, you are also the heir to the estate.”
“I should have known you would be a lawyer.” Reimund snorted with distaste.
“Again your denigration shows your ignorance Sir Reimund. Without law, we cannot have just order and we are forced to rely upon the order brought by the tyrant or otherwise suffer the darkness of chaos and anarchy.”
“So you think I could challenge that gutless bastard over the inheritance in court?” Reimund asked in a tone that could only scarcely be called apologetic. “How long would that take?”
“In the court of a magistrate, with the arguments and input of so many concerned parties, lieges and vassals alike, it could take years.” The Frankian allowed.
“Years!” Reimund snorted again. “I’d rather just gut that shiftless worm of a baron!”
“This is not an issue that can be resolved through trial by combat.” The Frankian said reprovingly.
“Who said anything about resolving the issue?” Reimund again displayed a woodenly calm demeanor. “I am not sworn to him and he is supposedly a knight. I could simply call him out for being a disgrace to his vows. Then he’d be a dead knight.”
The Frankian took Sir Reimund’s words for sheer bravado, but Konrad thought differently. The Baron, Robair, was a younger man, who had newly inherited his father’s title. While he had trained as a knight, he was said to be more interested in bards and troubadours than swordplay. Sir Reimund on the other hand was well known throughout the tournaments as a successful competitor, several times having taken the laurels of champion. Though Konrad shared his former pupil’s sentiment, there was no way that Reimund would inherit if he challenged the baron, and the estate that he had served for three generations would go to another line.
“On the other hand,” the Frankian continued, “if the Markgraf were to hear this case personally, it could be over much sooner.”
“And why would he care to hear this case, or dispose of it favorably towards me?”
“This whole business with raiders from the darkness. My order is charged with rooting out such dens of evil. The Markgraf is aware of the danger and has long been a supporter of our order. I do not claim to be up to the task of tracking this darkness alone, and my brethren are heavily engaged in similar business throughout the lands.” The Frankian looked purposefully towards Sir Reimund. “You on the other hand seem a capable sort, delivered I should think on the very eve of darkness after your brother’s death.”
“So you are saying that you would support my claim to this fief if I were to agree to aid you in destroying these raiders?”
“Exactly so, Sir Reimund. My order has considerable influence with the Markgraf. What’s more, I believe that the Markgraf will be very interested, and appreciative, to see these raiders disposed of.”
Suddenly the door to the hall slammed open. A young peasant rushed in then checked himself. He bowed slightly to Konrad then to Sir Reimund and Brother Arnald. “Apologies Master Konrad, Master Karsten sent me to report that he has found the raiders! They are pursuing them towards the ridge and need more men for the chase!”
“They are chasing the giant?” Konrad sounded dubious.
“No sir, Norsemen!”
“Norsemen!” Konrad looked to Sir Reimund. “There were no Norsemen amongst the previous raiders.”
“Some new mischief then?”
“There haven’t been Viking raids this far from the coast for over a century.”
“I do not believe that these Norsemen are involved with the raiders that have plagued this fief” Brother Arnald interjected.
“Well whatever they are, I intend to take a look.” Sir Reimund was in a mood for a fight. He strode to the door and called to Konstantin who had just finished rubbing down the horses. “Re-saddle them, Konstantin, Augustus and two palfreys. We’re hunting Vikings!”