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Baldwin, the Emo King

Birthday Surprise


The celebration of the birthday of King Baldwin begins with a parade organised by Loxos the Golden Tusk. The stars of the parade are the members of his herd of sixty elephants, a number which proves a marvel to the people of Jerusalem and the visiting dignitaries. The first sign of the parade is the sound of trumpets erupting from the edge of the city about an hour after the city's monasteries ring for Terse (roughly 9 a.m.). First to parade into the city are several dozen camels (borrowed from some of the traders outside the city) and a force of soldiers of the Crusader Kingdoms in immaculate armour provided by Raymond of Tripoli. A military band beats time and swords flash in martial display. A dozen banners fly in the breeze.

Behind them follow the elephants, mighty grey beasts richly caparisoned in the style of the Roman Empire with intricate fabric and weavings. The largest of the elephants, named Basil, has upon its back a howdah like a small Byzantine fort and upon it sits Loxos the Golden Tusk glowing with pride. Peacocks follow the elephants lead by thin golden string. Monkeys caper between the legs of the elephants.

It is clear that King Baldwin is utterly delighted by the display and as the parade reaches the palace he manages to slip his minders to slip into the throng of soldiers and animals. Gasping nobles wince and run as he moves between the thundering elephant steps before Basil reaches down with his trunk and plants him beside a grinning Loxos.

The parade takes an hour, but once it is done Getan de Reys is ready to begin the tournament.

The Tournament

The tournament begins at noon. The vast list field, outside the walls of the citadel of Jerusalem, being bedecked with the standards and heraldic shields of the half-a-hundred knights who have been selected to take part in the event. Music and trumpets fill the air and the atmosphere is electric.

At the far end of the ground, opposite the contestant’s entrance, is the royal box surmounted by the great golden crest of the house of Montferrat. Within the box sit three silver thrones, the central one having an ample supply of large cushions. The ground is thronged with the people of Jerusalem; priests, nobles, merchants and even beggars. Near the Royal Box are seated the most important ambassadors to the holy land: Count Shavleg Lomidze, from the court of Queen Tamar; Cardinal de Tartarts, from the Vatican; Nizam Ata, Grand Vizier to Turgal III and Loxos the Golden Tusk, of Byzantium.

The Tournament commences with the entrance of the competitors. All are wearing the most fashionable armour available in the Holy land; adorned with gold inlay, jewels and with cloaks of the finest dyed silks from the east. As the knights line up in ranks before the royal box the king’s family enter to the sounds of cheers and adoration from the throng. First comes Queen Sibylla and her husband Guy (although he does not sit upon one of the thrones); then the Regent, Raymond of Tripoli, enters, resplendent in a crimson and gold tunic; finally the young King himself is ushered in. He smiles broadly as he surveys the scene before him. A first he moves forward carefully to avoid dislodging the large golden crown upon his head but as he catches sight of the knights he rushes forward to the edge of the box, his abrupt stop causing his crown to fall from his head onto the sand below the box. A chuckle runs through the crowd and Raymond raises his hand to his temples to poorly disguise a look of annoyance. The Crown is quickly retrieved and a great cheer goes up as the Queen replaces the crown upon the king’s brow. Baldwin seats himself on the central throne, looking entirely out of place on the huge seat, marking the start of the festivities.

The jousting begins and a large proportion of the knights are quickly tilted as the most skilled make their mark upon the field. Gerard de Ridefort, Pyotr Loria , Raymond de Forcalquier and Parzival Von Schwarzkopf unhorse their first few opponents with ease and great skill. General Lucius Aprenos adeptly tilts his first opponent, a knight of the Hospitallers, but on his second joust he seems to fumble his lance at the last moment dropping its point into the sand catapulting him twenty feet over the head of his opponent to land in a pile of horse dung. As the field narrows down Gerard de Ridefort is felled by a skilful strike to the chest by Pyotr Loria and Parzival Von Schwarzkopf is knocked unconscious by his own horse after he mistimes a strike against Elyas de Rolveston, a young French knight. Elyas is in turn dehorsed and has to be helped from his armour while still on the field. He limps half naked from the lists to much cheering from the crowd stopping only to pick up and return a bible that Father Panagiotis Giannopoulos seems to have dropped from the stands.

As the sun falls behind the Towers of the Citadel two contestants remain: Pyotr Loria and Raymond de Forcalquier. The light of the sunset glints off the dents and deformations in their armour as they face each other across the list so that they seem ensconced in twin halos of light. King Baldwin has risen to his feet and peers fascinated over the side of the royal box (the crown left safely on the cushions of the throne). He raises his hand and as he lets it fall the two knights spur their steeds toward each other. Pyotr lands a strike but Raymond recovers well and is not unhorsed. As they turn for the second charge each is tossed a new lance by their squires. On the second run it is Raymond who strikes and Pyotr wobbles dangerously in his saddle, but he regains his balance and once more they turn. This time they gallop at full pace and the thunder of their horses hooves fills the silence of the arena, echoing back off the walls of the citadel. They lean forward to meet each other’s charge and this time both strike, their lances exploding in showers of splinters with the force of the impact. Each knight is thrown from their saddle landing with a crushing impact on the sand. With deadly speed Pyotr unsheathes his sword and springs towards Raymond who, being slightly slower, is still on his knees. It seems that Pyotr’s lunge has won the day but with the reflexes of a hardened warrior Raymond jams the hilt of his own sword in Pyotr’s midriff who stumbles back clearly winded. Raymond’s blade now whirls around, striking in great arcs against Pyotr’s sword. Pyotr puts up a defence worthy of a truly great knight but has lost the initiative and as their blades meet once more Raymond kicks the legs from under the Georgian knight and wrenches the sword from his grasp. Pyotr falls back and raises his hand in submission.

The crowd erupts into wild applause and the victorious Raymond helps Pyotr to his feet. The two knights clasp arms warmly and limp proudly towards the royal box. Baldwin is beaming in delight at this and as both men kneel before him he, with some difficulty, presents Raymond with an ornamental sword whose handle appears to be made of a single gigantic emerald. Raymond of Tripoli rises to his feet and proclaims Raymond de Forcalquier to be the kings champion for the day.

The Royal family along with the winner of the tournament then depart for the citadel and the great birthday feast.

The Birthday Feast

As darkness falls on Jerusalem the great birthday party begins. The great hall of the citadel is even more spectacular then the jousting grounds. Getan de Reys himself greets the most important guests. He is dressed in a midnight black velvet tabard, like that of a knight, superbly cut and with the king’s golden coat of arms in place of that of any order. The Royal family, Getan and Raymond de Forcalquier take their places at the high table. The remaining dignitaries and knights take their seats on the lower level of the hall. William of Shrewsbury and Henry of Gloucester kick up a fuss after being seated near ambassadors from Saladin’s domain and end up sitting by themselves in an alcove of the hall. Otherwise the atmosphere is merry and cheerful, bar the odd snide comment about heathens from Praeceptor Abelard who seems to be being egged on by the Georgian Brother Basilus. The table seating Micheal of Bethlehem, Pavel Korovic, Donatien Alfonse Desgranges of Béziers and the man Jacob seems to be getting along very well, with help from the plentiful supply of French wine.

The feast is lavish beyond Reason; English partridge, Italian hams, French goose and a cooked swan with each of its feathers replaced with a golden leaf. The combination of fine cuisine and endless supplies of wine quickly loosens the tongues of even the staunchest enemies and the conversation flows freely. Even Raymond of Tripoli, normally a dour man, leans over to Getan and whispers approvingly in his ear.

At the climax of the feast a great cake is brought into the Hall made of Baldwin’s favourite sweetmeats and the delighted king cuts it with a golden knife. Eventually when all have eaten their fill Raymond of Tripoli rises. He congratulates the winner of the tournament and commends Getan for the honour he has done the king with this celebration. Finally he takes from a silk bag a crown of delicately woven silver and electrum, clearly more suitable for the young king then the one he currently wears, and places it on Baldwin’s head to much cheering.

As the feast finishes the centre of the Hall is cleared and the musicians in the balcony above begin to play the songs of dancing from Europe. Many of the guests begin to dance, with all the most beautiful and eligible women somehow gravitating toward Getan de Reys, though he dances with them but briefly and spends a great deal of time laughing with Elyas de Rolveston. Not long after the dancing begins the Queen leans over to the young king, who clearly looks tired from his long day in his heavy robes of state, and whispers in his ear. She then beckons to a servant and the king is walked from the hall by his body guard Malik az-Mahir.

It all goes Horribly Wrong

Only a few minutes after the king has left the room a great cacophony fills the courtyard of the citadel drowning out the music of the party. The great door of the hall explodes inward slamming the lurking Grand Vizier Nizam Ata and his parrot into the wall behind it. Through the door and a cloud of parrot feathers streaks a pink elephantine form. It bolts across the dance floor sending dancers sprawling to the ground and makes straight for Loxos, who looks in horror at the approaching form. From the open doorway comes the shouts of the guards and someone screams something about King Baldwin’s menagerie being released by a pink demon. From outside come the roar of leopards and the screech of exotic birds as King Baldwin’s pets meet Loxos’s parade. Chaos descends upon the Hall with the cries of people mingling with the trumpeting and screaming of the animals outside. Loxos vaults the table and runs outside to calm his elephants while royal guards stream from every part of the citadel. It is only moments before the pandemonium subsides and Loxos gets his parade animals under control. The guests look at each other uncertainly as silence descends upon the hall. Getan de Reys, keen to seize the social initiative, gestures to the musician’s gallery who raise their instruments to begin to play once more. As they do however a lone figure runs in through the open door, it is the king’s bodyguard Malik az-Mahir. He is pale and sweat is beading on his forehead, in one hand is his great blue scimitar and in his other he carries King Baldwin’s Crown.

“The King….is gone” he cries.

The animalistic chaos of moments ago is nothing to the madness that it now unleashed: Raymond leaps to his feet, a look of fury on his face; the Queen screams, running from the room; the ambassadors look from one to another, the camaraderie of the party dispelled as the awful situation dawns on them. The Royal family is the first to move. The Regent calls his guard captains and orders a total search of the Citadel and Philip of Jerusalem is dispatched to lock down the gates of Jerusalem itself.

Over the remainder of the night searchers comb every tower and dungeon in the citadel. The guests are forced to remain within the great hall and can do little more than listen to the commotion around them. At dawn they are permitted to leave in small groups surrounded by royal guards.

The Hunt for Baldwin

The Fate of the Boy King?

Within the city of Jerusalem the political landscape is rapidly becoming extremely unstable. The court is quickly becoming polarised between the factions that believe that Baldwin is dead and that the line of succession should be fulfilled and those who believe that the Regent should be allowed to maintain his position until Baldwin is recovered, dead or alive. The imminent attack on Damascus is also fraying the nerves of nobles and peasants alike.

Some elements of the Court are deeply suspicious of the event surrounding Baldwin’s disappearance. The power grab by the Regent since the King’s disappearance and the Raymond’s clear dislike of the boy king have made Philip of Jerusalem and the king’s advisor Getan de Reys wary of the man.

To Rudyard the beggar king it has become clear that before Baldwin’s vanishing Raymond had been contacting some powerful magic users. Using his sources in the major cites of the Middle East he is able to determine that two magicians for hire journeyed to Jerusalem. The description of one of them, an Invoker by the name of Ziauddin Sardar, matches that of a corpse that was pulled from a slurry pit outside the city two weeks ago. The second man, a symbolic mage by the name of Mikhail Shcherbato, has yet to be accounted for but the Inn he stayed at while in the city was burnt to the ground shortly after the last Peace of the Covenant.

It is Praeceptor Abelard who is able to reconstruct the activities of the magi within the city and determines that they met for several clandestine meetings within the merchant’s district of the city, where they consorted with the Jeweller Katharina Luther. Philip immediately issues an arrest warrant for the Jeweller, who survives, and she is passed to the gentle care of Getan de Reys. It takes little time for him to obtain the information desired from the woman.

The various parties involved in the search come together in secret at Philip’s citadel in Acre, where they are safe from the prying eyes of Raymond of Tripoli and his friends in court. As they correlate their sources and intelligence the pattern of Raymond’s plot begins to emerge from the shadows:

The regent had a crown crafted for the young king and the two wizards were paid a great deal of money to enchant the King’s new crown, but the nature of enchantment is not at all clear. Getan de Reys has determined that the King’s bodyguard played no part in the disappearance and that the Baldwin apparently vanished in the middle of the Citadel’s courtyard.

Neither de Reys , Abelard or Rudyard are able to determine how the king was smuggled from the city, or if he even was. It is the man Jacob who provides the vital clue. Working alone he traces the activities of the Citadel’s servants that day and is able to find the servants who were in the Citadel’s courtyard at the time of the King’s disappearance. Upon questioning one of them, a young washer girl, he convinces her that the fate of the Holy Land lies in her truthfulness; and from beneath a pile of dirty rags she takes a delicate silver crown. Jacob, not knowing of the greater investigation going on around him nearly takes the crown the Regent but luckily for the mystery solvers it is upon an agent of Philip’s that he happens first while within Jerusalem.

With the crown in the Hand the group gathers to determine the fate of the young King. The spells woven into the metal of the crown are complex and alien but with reference to several books from the library of Jerusalem Jacob and Getan are able to determine the meaning of the symbols engraved upon the object. They reveal that a Djinn of some power was imprisoned within the crown and commanded to strike when the crown was placed upon the head, that head being Baldwin’s.

Wine and Regicide

As at last they come to understand the nature of the magic employed against the King a messenger arrives at Acre with grim news. Queen Sibylla and her sister Lady Isabella of Jerusalem have been assassinated in front of the entire court.

Extract from a letter to Philip of Jerusalem:

“My Lord, it was terrible. The Feast was a quite one and a great sense of mourning still hung over the court due to the loss of the young King. As the final dishes were cleared away the Bishop of Jerusalem began a grace but as he did so a black clad figure, dressed as an executioner, leapt from the darkness above; shouting that he was the “Kingmaker”. Within moments the ladies were dead and the fiend had escaped in a cloud of smoke. I cannot say who the assassin might have been…but I could have sworn that for an instance in the smoke I saw a ghostly figure of young woman in the murderer’s wake.”

With the entire royal family now dead Philip determines that no time remains, the King must be retrieved at all costs; before Raymond cements his control over the Kingdom. He calls upon the aid of Brother Ambrose who is known to consort with the angels of the lord and together they bargain with the Angel Ophanim for the host’s aid in retrieving the king. The deal made the Angel soars into the air and is soon lost from sight.

Return of the King

An hour passes and the group begins to fear that the Host has failed in its task when suddenly a great cacophony fills the air of the Citadel. They rush to the window to see, accompanied by a great crack of thunder, the metallic angel descending from the clouds surrounded by a dazzling golden light. In his wake, born by four smaller winged figures, is a large grey elephant suspended by delicate silken ribbons. Alighting deftly within the courtyard the Angel bows to Ambrose and then turns to the elephant and in a great voice proclaims;


“But…” mumbles Ambrose

“THE BARGIN IS FULLFILED AND THE HOSTS TASK IS DONE” speaks the Angel, and with a roar of his great silver wings he is gone. The cherubim follow, looking extremely tired and mumbling under their breath.

The assembled group stare at the beast before them. It looks much like the nondescript elephants they saw in Loxos’ great parade in Jerusalem, though it does have bright golden eyes.

“Bal…Baldwin?” asks Philip in a whisper.

The elephant makes no reply but it reaches affectionately up to Philip's hand with its trunk and clasps it. The group looks around bemused but it seems the nature of the mysterious magic has been revealed; King Baldwin has been transformed into elephant and must have left Jerusalem mingled in with Loxos' entourage.

The Race to Jerusalem

Having no way to transform the young king into his natural form and determining that this would likely take the power of both an Invoker and a Symbolic mage the group are forced to leave the pachyderm prince within the citadel of Acre. Philip musters what forces he can from the garrisons at Acre and with all haste rides to Jerusalem.

His force arrives with great speed but they find the gates of the city barred before them, the city legion arrayed on the walls before them. Jerusalem is sealed. Philip alone is permitted to enter under parley, though he does so with much trepidation and the accompaniment of his personal bodyguard. He is taken to the Citadel of Jerusalem and is then lead up to the audience chamber of the King. Upon the throne sits Raymond of Tripoli, the Privy Council arrayed behind him. As he speaks the look on his face is almost reptilian.

“I see you at least have the courage to come before us traitor.”

“It is you who are the traitor Raymond, to the King and to your duty” replies Philip calmly. “Your plot is undone; we have Baldwin and the Crown you used to spirit him away.”

“Yes, my agents told me what you have…An elephant. Ha! You come before us with this child’s tale of magic and subterfuge when all you have is a dumb beast and a crown stolen by a parlour maid” Raymond’s voice is cold and deadly now as he senses victory. “Whereas I have the dead bodies of Sibylla and Isabella and with Baldwin missing that leaves one person in line for the throne of Jerusalem. One person who would benefit from all this death. You Philip”

“I..” starts Philips

“Do you deny that you have engineered the murder of the royal family, your family, to place yourself on the throne?” Raymond rises to his feet. “Which scenario do you expect the Lords and Ladies of the Privy Council to believe; that magic and elephants have whisked away the King or that you are a traitor and a murderer?”

The Privy Council look down at Philip impassively; it is clear where their allegiance lies.

“But my Lords! Raymond is the traitor. A Usurper!” Cries Philip

“It is over Philip. Surrender and I will show what mercy I can.” Raymond’s reply is serene, a smug smile settling over his face.

Philip realises that he cannot win the day. “I came under parley Raymond and I will leave under it. Or will your corrupted honour allow you to arrest me now?”

“You may go Philip, but you will be enemy of the Kingdom of Jerusalem and a declared traitor. In the end you will wish you had turned yourself over now” Raymond waves to the guards and way is opened for Philip to leave.

The Aftermath

Baldwin is returned though not in a form which the nobles will recognise. Raymond holds Jerusalem and Philip and the Elephant King hold court at Acre. The nobles of the Crusader kingdoms have split their allegiance between the two Courts. The Kingdom of Jerusalem is edging towards war and Raymond and Philip have declared each other traitors to the Crown. Only the return of the true king, Baldwin V can avert civil war in the Holy Land.

news/bm/baldwin.1255426492.txt.gz · Last modified: 2009/10/13 09:34 by oliver
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