Steel and Sorrow: Rise of the Mercenary king

Chapter 42: Bread and ale(3)

Chapter 42: Bread and ale(3)

The atmosphere in the hall grew tense as Harold's words settled among the gathered nobles. Sensing the attention upon him, Maesinius drew a steadying breath, summoning every ounce of resolve he possessed as he prepared to address the assembly.

"It may come as new to many of you," he began, his voice steady despite the roiling turmoil within him, "but my father met his end upon the battlefield in Arlania." His announcement rippled through the assembly like a pebble cast into a still pond, igniting a murmured flurry of whispers and exclamations. For most, this revelation was a shock.The northern lord did not have spies in the south. As such their sources of information were being limited to the occasional grain merchant who traversed the northern lands as the sold thier products.

"In the wake of my father's passing," Maesinius continued, his tone resolute, "my stepmother wasted no time in seizing power, crowning my younger brother , the third prince as emperor and reinstating the council of the 200, with herself as regent.She demand the lords to travel to the capital and swear an oath of loyalt-"

Even before he could finish, the hall erupted into chaos, each noble clamoring to make their voice heard above the tumultuous din. "Despicable!" cried one, his words echoing off the walls like a battle cry. "Cowards and snakes!" bellowed another, his anger palpable in the air. "To swear fealty to a child? I would sooner cleave my own cock and balls !"

Fury and indignation coursed through the assembled nobles, their voices blending together in dissent. Like a ship tossed upon a storm , fighting against the waves before being overwhelmed by the sea.

Suddenly, amidst the fervent voices of dissent, a figure rose from among the assembly. It was Murth Grennor, lord of Greenplains. With a commanding presence that passed over his relatively young age, he stood tall, his brown beard cascading over his chest and his long hair flowing down his back like a river of shadows. Though he possessed a stature befitting a nobleman, standing beside the towering figure of Uther, he appeared as a mere sapling beside an ancient oak.

"We beseeched them for aid against Swutheld," Murth declared, his voice resounding through the hall like a clarion call to arms. "We warned them of the thousands of warriors marching upon our lands. And how did they respond? With disdain and contempt, spitting upon our very beards!" His words ignited a chorus of agreement from his fellow nobles, their voices rising in righteous indignation.

"And now," Murth continued, his tone brimming with righteous fury, "that crimson-hued whore dares to demand our fealty. She expects us to abandon our fiefs, to kneel upon their polished marble floors and grovel at their feet. But what has she or her spawn ever done for us?" His voice swelled with impassioned fervor, each word a dagger aimed at the heart of southern tyranny.

"Should we bow our heads to those who care naught for our plight?" Murth's voice thundered, his gaze sweeping across the assembly "No! I say we stand firm, united in our loyalty to one who has stood beside us, who has shared in our struggles and triumphs. Two winters past, when famine gripped our lands, it was he who ensured that grain reached our people, while his father turned a blind eye to our pleas."

As Murth's impassioned speech reached its zenith, he dropped to one knee before Maesinius, his head bowed in a gesture of allegiance. "I will serve only one of our own as emperor," he proclaimed, his voice ringing with defiance. "May death claim that wretched woman and her child !"

His words struck a chord with the assembled nobles, stirring their hearts with renewed resolve. One by one, they followed Murth's example, dropping to their knees in a show of solidarity. Yet, just as the fervor threatened to consume them all, the prince raised his hand and stopped them

Maesinius paused, casting his gaze across the assembled nobles. With a measured breath, he continued

"The empire has long been a burden upon the North," he began, his tone heavy with solemnity. "Time and again, you have sought aid, only to be met with indifference and disdain. Yet, despite this mistreatment, the North has remained subservient,why is that?"

Karl Carlsson, lord of Snowmirth, was the one to asnwer . "We rely on the trade of pelts for sustenance" he acknowledged, his voice tinged with resignation. "Our lands cannot produce enough to feed our people, so we are forced to turn to the merchants of the South."

"Indeed," Maesinius affirmed, nodding in agreement. "But this reliance has come at a cost—a cost borne by the North itself. The merchants exploit our dependency, extracting exorbitant prices knowing full well that we have no alternative.The emperor sold privileges only to certain merchant family , allowing them to have the monopoly of selling grain to us, causing them to have complete control over prices."

The weight of his words hung heavy in the air as Maesinius's gaze hardened, . "You look to me for change, for salvation from this cycle of exploitation," he continued, his voice tinged with bitterness. "But I tell you now, that hope is misplaced."

With a sudden, defiant gesture, Maesinius spat upon the ground before him. The nobles recoiled in shock, their expressions a mix of astonishment and disbelief. Even Harold, his stalwart ally, regarded the prince with a gaze that bore into his very soul.This was not what anyone of them expected, as they thought that the prince would have been the first to call for war

"The North's plight runs deeper than mere neglect," Maesinius proclaimed, his voice rising with fervor.

''The numbers of soldiers the north can muster is too low'' Maesinius then shouted ''The second prince will certainly raise his banner and will be supported by the east, who can easily field more than 15,000 men to march south. The third prince itself will be able to rise a similar number, except he will even be in a better position, as all he need to do is to hold the pass between the mountains .Inside of it there are vast amount of grain that will sustain them they will have a sea route for trade . '' As he said so the prince's gaze swept over the nobles.

''In comparison the north can at most muster no more than 9,000. What do you expect to achieve with that?You speak of the fact that the empire ignore the plight of your people, and now you wish to bring death to our people to fight for a lost cause?''

The nobles fell into a heavy silence, their eyes fixed on Maesinius as he spoke. With each word, his resolve seemed to strengthen, and a flicker of determination ignited within him. "To place me on the throne, we would need to defeat both my brothers," he declared, his voice ringing with conviction. "But such a victory would come at a cost, a cost that the North cannot afford to bear. Why would I willingly sacrifice more of my people for my own ambitions?"

As he spoke, Maesinius gestured emphatically, his hands extending outward. "All I hold dear is the well-being of the people who have welcomed me, who smile when I ride through their villages. This sense of belonging, this connection—I cannot find it in the South. Why would I abandon this place for the sake of a throne sorrounded by snakes?"

His words echoed through the hall, penetrating the hearts of those assembled. "All you speak of is of how the South neglects us, how they would sooner see us starve than offer aid. And yet, here you are, discussing talking about putting a man onto the very throne that abused the lots you. Do you truly believe things will change? No, they will only worsen!It is but a lost cause and we shall find our fields red with our blood "

With each repetition, Maesinius's voice grew stronger. "From here we have few choices. You could be bending the knee to the red bitch in the South," following these words he spat.

"Then there is bending the knee to Mavius who will be too busy shoving his prick onto the first whore he will find ," he spat again.

"I will not allow my people to bleed for my ambition, but I would gladly shed my blood to see them prosper.I refuse to partecipate in a war that would cause them to suffer needlessly.

It is time for the North to break free from the Empire, to forge its own path as an independent kingdom. Winter may be coming,with it famine will follow. The only way the North will survive is to go on a road never taken since 180 years ago!It's time for the North to go forward alone and stop bending the knee to the South.No more shall it be bled dry by merchants, nor shall it send his sons to fight a war that will bring them nothing.From now on every decision , shall be taken BY us and not FOR us .''

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