Chapter 3: The letter
12 April 1257
The same day I received that letter, I started to ride towards Dhirim, where count Haringoth was last seen. It was a trip that took me two days. Not only due to the long travelling distance, but also because I fought some looters on the road, and dealt in some wine. Once I arrived in the city, the count was long gone. I asked lady Auberina, present and a little reluctant to receive me, where he could be, but all she could do was point me to some directions. So I went down to the bar to order some drinks, when I met a young lady named Ymira. She had run away from her family to avoid a diplomatic family marriage. How absurd from that lady to renounce her father's will, but better for me. She's quite handy in medical procedures, so I asked her if she could join my small growing army to take care of my men. After she said yes, I of course gave her some more practical clothes than her fancy dress. I'm not hiring her to be a court lady, but to be a field doctor.My army grows steady: Ymira is a fine medical addition to the team.
I followed lady Auberina's directions, but count Haringoth was of course not there. Once again I was close to the city of Uxkhal, where I asked for directions. This mission to deliver a letter could become more difficult than I had originally thought. Everytime I would go where this count was supposed to be, he would of course be gone. This depressed me deeply, so I went down to the local tavern. But even there my misfortune wouldn't go away: I was immediately attacked by some drunken guy. I did win, but it seemed like a sign that hope was lost. But in this time of trouble, lady Bela came to me, whispering words of wisdom: 'Listen to me, listen to me.' She pointed out that count Haringoth has his own castle, Haringoth castle: he would probably be there.
I rode all day, but when it became dark, and I could see the castle already in front of me, some local bandits tried to rob me. That was a mistake they wouldn't make twice. Even though the fighting attracted even more bandits, four waves in total, I easily overcame them. But thanks to this delay, count Haringoth was already gone when I entered the castle. Lady Constansis said that he was patrolling the woods, in the direction of Lyindah, so I continued my roadtrip in that direction. On the road I met king Harlaus again. I asked him what he was doing here, in the woods, and he enlightened me:
'Floris,' he said, 'as a king I must be out in the field once in a while. Since my marshal is out on a campaign, it's up to me to secure the land surrounding my capital, Praven.'
'My liege, why don't you let one of your counts patrol the woods and lead your army yourself into victory?'
'To be honest,' the king said a little shy, 'I have no idea where our main army is. I just can't seem to find it. And how can I lead an army I can't find?'King Harlaus admits he loses important things sometimes.
This revelation shocked me. How can a king lose his own army? And I mean not by getting it crushed by a superior foe, but because he's unable to find it. This clearly demonstrates that the king is an idiot, and needs to be replaced. I should save the poor people of Swadia from this madman, I should lead them. But I must be careful: if I want to replace the king, I'll need to act cautiously and make friends along the way. Ow, and count Haringoth wasn't around the small village of Lyindah: the king informed me that the count was currently in the city of Suno.
While moving towards Suno, count Regas walked towards me. After some greetings, he told me that the king had given him the mission to find able men for the war against the Khergit Khanate, and seeing my leadership and my skill against the bandits in the woods, he would really like me to join the kingdom. Of course I accepted: this was the opening I was looking for. But he also wanted me to bring him some prisoners of war: knowing that my current army wasn't of sufficient strength to counter a real trained foe instead of some men in the forest, I had to refuse. Then I moved on towards Suno, even though Regas told me count Haringoth was now near Vyincourd Castle: I had to relinquish myself from all the loot I had taken from all those bandits I had killed.One of the many battles against the bandits roaming the woods.
Before I reached the city of Suno, I met count Klargus, lord of Suno. We got to talk, and he came up with an interesting proposal: since he had been unable to collect the Suno taxes for quite a while, he asked me to do so. In exchange I was allowed to keep one fifth of the amount. Twenty percent of the taxes from a large city? That would be really a lot. A chance I really should take. So I accepted, and rode the last few miles to Suno, demanding the people to pay up. It took me three days to collect them all. In the meantime I had to deal with unhappy citizens demanding less taxes. They said it was unfairly much. But how else could we finance the kingdom both in times of peace and war? War seems to be the status quo all around these parts, even more than in my home of the Holy Roman Empire. During the tax collecting the kingdom of Nord even declared war on Swadia, and a few days later the Vaegirs followed. In the end I collected 7523 denars, which I immediately used to buy an enormous supply of wine.
As soon as I loaded all the wine on some carts, I left for Dhirim. I had heard that I could sell it with a lot of profit over there. Since I had all those taxes available, I could pay for those many gallons of red delight. I would pay Klargus his taxes after I'd made some profit from it. But I had bought so many wine, that even the combined funds from the market, the horse trader, the arms dealer and the armor shop weren't sufficient to buy it all from me. But before I left to sell the stock that was left in some other city, I participated in the local tournament. Unfortunately I was eliminated pretty quickly in the first round.I participated in the Dhirim tournament on 8 April 1257.
But I still had to deliver the letter to count Haringoth. So I asked around and learned that he was now out of the country. So I asked where count Klergus was, whom I should deliver the taxes too: in Suno, his city. So I decided to go to Suno, but not after making a detour through the kingdom of Rhodoks: I had heard that there would be really great business opportunities over there, ones I should certainly abide with the funds currently in my possession. I first travelled to Veluca, a city greatly praised by my loyal medic Ymira: there I sold the remainder of my wine stock. Then I continued to Jelkala, a city renown for its velvet. And that was exactly what I bought. Cheap velvet is something everyone should invest in. Also, I bought some smoked fish and wool cloth.
Immediately I travelled back to Suno, where I sold everything except the velvet. How disappointing was the offer they made over there. But I asked around, again, and learned that the count was back in his castle. So for the second time I travelled over there, where I finally met him, and could finally deliver the letter I was carrying for almost two weeks. Now I'd needed to bring those taxes to count Klergus. but I wouldn't do that before a world trade tour.
Here is a picture of Floris' current stats: