Kaiser Jason IV
Chronicles of the Reign of Jason IV
And in the year 1224 After Norton, Jason of the House Steffki, a man of martial ardour and ambition did learn that the Kaiser, Nicholas the Third of his name, was with his retinue and court drinking and whoring at the Manor of the Lord Malkarnek and at the expense of that same Lord, a man of no great standing by the name of Balzenbeck. Jason, with his most devoted henchmen, immediately set off in the dead of night for the Lordship of Malkarnek which lay far to the north of Jason's manors in and around the city of Alexandretta.
Riding tirelessly for seven saddle-sore days, Jason arrived, on the morning of the 9th of Laemill, amongst the thickets of the copse on the Hill of Dunarben overlooking the fortified manor house, a large mobile village of tents and wagon carts surrounded by a hastily dug ditch and palisade fence was erected. A mist hung over the slumbering encampment and Jason was shrouded from the view of the Kaiser's guards. Changing into the filthy mud-splattered jupon of one of his sergeant-at-arms, and placing a hooded cloak of poorly spun hemp about his shoulders, the Lord Jason rode down into the Kaiser's encampment disguised as his own messenger.
The Lord's subterfuge depended on his not being recognised, for as a stranger at court he could hope not to be recognised by the Shirekeep Lordlings, courtiers and flunkies who kept the Kaiser's company. Their retainers, men-at-arms and servants might be another matter; all the nobility of Brookshire and Goldshire relied upon the coming and going of able lesser men and women; junior relatives who gained a post as a favour, mercenaries selling their sword to the highest bidder. To avoid their gaze, Jason adopted a lowly mien, walked slowly and kept a look of bashful awe, as though a moon-struck squire who had never seen so many gentlemen and women of quality before. His conceit was a simple one, he sought the tent of the Kaiser's Steward, Glamael Lance-Torn, and found, as he'd hoped, the Lord of the Manor in attendance with the Steward, pleading for some relief from the burdens placed upon him in hosting the Kaiser, who was a notorious whoremonger, glutton and abuser of hospitality. The Lord's pleas were finding little sympathy from the Steward. The Kaiser enjoyed, by ancestral right, the privilege of carrying out a Royal Progress throughout his lands of Brookshire, Goldshire and Yardistan. The theory was that this was to bring him closer to his people. In practice the Kaisers in Shirekeep would use their tours of the countryside with the Imperial Court to act much as an invading army would, despoiling the land and eating up the food surpluses with which rebellious or seditious lords might hope to sustain an army in the field against their liege lord. Together with the exertions of those roving bands of tax collectors who answered to none but the lords of the treasury, the Kaiser's constant progressing through the land kept the rival Imperial Bloodlines and lesser nobility on the verge of ruin.
Only one set of people would willingly accept an Imperial visitation, those seeking to gain the favour of the Throne, especially the heirs to the dispossessed. Jason himself counted amongst their number - his great-grandfather, Kaiser Jason III, had been deposed in a palace coup and beheaded in the grounds of Raynor's Keep enclosed by the barbican. His grandfather, Jaison, had been made subject to a bill of attainder by the Landsraad and had perished miserably, torn limb from limb by the hunting dogs of the Duke of Brookshire. His father, Jay, had only earned enough through piracy committed in Istvanistan and under the shadows of the Isles of Jasonia to buy back a few tattered remnants of the family's once vast estates. What still eluded the family, and what kept them in disgrace and exile from court, was the loss of the recognition that was due to a house born from the descendants of Raynor.
This then, was the suit that Jason had come to plead, in the guise of being his own messenger, that the Steward would listen favourably to his master's request that the Kaiser come and grace his halls with his presence, to break bread, drink mead and feast at his expense. The request was of course scorned by the Steward, who had earned his spurs in the hunt which had brought Jaison to his death beneath the fangs of a pack of ravenous hounds.
Curtly dismissed from the tent, Jason was left to kick his heels, just another camp follower, whilst the Steward returned to his rancorous argument with the Lord of the Manor.
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