Politics and Faith
Of those I esteem the most, I count those who close-ranked fame with courage and dared ever to risk their flesh and lives in service of the realm and ideals combined in gentle Albion. And though all men know faults (and I more than most) it seemed to me that Albion was blessed in valour and high honour in bountiful measure.
And though he and I have had cause for dispute and hard words since, I name Robert Falcon a man of faith and noble heart, and though assailed by doubts and enemies surrounding, this man would not flee from battle in the cause he thought right, and though possessing no cause to love me or my cousin yet he risked his soul in defence of our name and risked the embrace of Hadaig to serve the Dream we named our goal.
And the first household of Albion I served was his, and in Warwick I knew the generosity of Falcons and found there a love I would cherish and value higher than all things save the dream of love itself.
And at the last the words of a lesser man drove a knife between the faith of Robert and I and for that cause I know sorrow yet, but truth enough I will not slight a man for holding loyalty foremost in matters between stranger and family, and a great liar would I be should I claim never to have felt or suffered the hard constraints of duty and worldly service yet.
And hard the lot of a wanderer reft from hearth and home; and harder still the wandering doubts of a once-exiled prince adrift again without the kinship of cause and friendship hale. And in truth I owe the Falcons much and Robert more, but I could not speak lies when bound by faith and my curse it is to know a dream that calls me on and past the easy comfort of political compromise and courtly satisfaction.
And when my thoughts were lowest and my heart at dwindled ebb I found the friendship of another lord, and he Benedict Karlennon of the ancient border house which guarded Albion from Caledonia in ages past. And Benedict spoke hard truths without dissemble or false kindness, but in his honesty came sanctuary and in his host-generosity came knowledge and understanding of Albion herself, and of the realm surrounding this most ancient of mortal dreams.
And I a wanderer-once became Knight-Captain sworn to the defence of that dream, and of the faith of Marchwood, and of the duty of quest and noble sacrifice. And Benedict knew few doubts and little soft confusion; and his soul burned like a flaming banner and drove the shadows of compromise and loss beyond the gaze of minds eye and living ideal.
And when all was darkest Benedict swore Robert and I to cause conjoined, and brought us by example to war-companionship in the face of bitter horror, and guided our hearts to victory fine (though no victory this noble lord would live to see himself).
My heart was broken though, and a light had gone from the world in truth. And Marchwood once a home and glorious beacon seemed less than a prison to contain the remnant fragments of a shattered dream.
Yet I swore an oath to serve Karlennon in the absence of Benedict, and to stand as Knight to the heir of the Karlennon blood and more fool me the delusion which drove me to speak false when my heart cried tears of blood besides.
How can tell you the yearning of a heart reft from heart’s desire? And I a soldier, a poet, a dreamer and a foolish romantic combined in heady delusion and haunted sorrow. I looked at Phoenix Karlennon and saw nothing. I listened to his words and my eyes were hollow. I saw others moved and yet my spirit was cold like morning embers while my passion died, and recollection stirred ever of the night before.
And I served Karlennon in the Summerlands and thought to pay a debt incurred not for love but duty, but can a dreamer serve an empty dream? And while the words had golden formed from bright muse of the deeds of Marchood heroes; I watched Karlennon coldly in the Summerlands, and no poetry rose to swell my passions at the deeds of politicians and tinkerers in spells and charms. In truth I was an exile again, and this time by choice – for my poet’s-soul could scarce attend the service I had sworn to make.
And when I volunteered to restore Pheonix from Rosamund to return the lost Karlennon heir?
In truth I thought less of my lord than I did for the tale itself; A bard must walk in harms way to give truth to the telling-spun, and a story formed without risk is a cheapened thing, a paltry and risible gift to the world and worlds to come.
I saw the last of the Summerlands and the deeds which happened there, and that I might have returned the Karlennon heir in the company of fellow champions was less than that I knew their company and briefly held the faith of quest-companion with the bold.
“Friends and allies of House Karlennon, the time has come for me to take my leave of you with thanks for the hospitality shown these last months. I came here in search of sanctuary and example and found such in the words and work of Benedict Karlennon, a great man whom it was my pleasure and my privilege to know, if only for a time.
With truth and honour I found the swords of the Karlennon roused against the night, and at Marchwood and in the Summerlands I have fought beside men of truth and honour yet, and I have not wasted the blood I have spilled or the songs I have sung of this hearth and memory both.
But though I came here for Benedict I may not stay for the same reason; his words were like fire and bright resolve, and I may not compromise the ideals I held and saw reflected in courage hale and sure, and though no evil reigns here now, in comparison to the way of things before my heart is sundered and broken and my muse is gone.
I am no politician or scholar or quiet speaker of mysteries dank and dull; I am a warrior-bard and reckless seeker of wondrous vista and true experience, I am a knight without a country and without a lord, my sword is eager and driven to taste the flesh of lies and false deceivers, and my heart pounds yet with the desire to journey anew and find what might be found elsewhere!
In Benedict I found a lord once, a man whom I could have served and worshiped in his faith and vision, but like the knights from Arthur reft past Camlan water, I am left alive when faith has died and aimless flung aside with windblown autumn leaves!
Pheonix de Maggio is no evil man, nor false sworn lord, but he is no master for a warrior household and that is what I seek. To pledge my faith and end my exile to the hearth of a battle lord is an enduring quest, and only sorrow may come of its denial.
In the summerlands I saw the truth of this for the company of Karlennon is a thing of politics and courtly grace, and I leave such arts to the hands of masters like Christian and Pheonix and those who flourish in such things. I am besides a simple man and my ways are not suited to close compulsion and careful bearing – I speak the truth my heart has seen and my dreams soar high and wild with the beating of my veins in passion strewn.
I hope one day to find a hearth where warriors feast and deeds are sung and love begets all the bright follies of romance spun, and till that day I name the quest to strive anew to live the dream and spin the tales to warm the hearts of men.
To Goran and Gorstang and Durenor I bid sad farewell for your noble hearts are strong and your deeds are golden spun from courage bright, to Geoffrey I bid you well besides, and hope you faith will be rewarded in times to come, to those others of the household I trust your wisdom and your grace will bring its own reward.
And though I leave and leave you well, I pledge my aid in quest and hard travail should such be called to avert harm. I shall not forget Marchwood or the men and women who use Benedict’s name, and spoken such it is a talisman to beckon my sword and voice to your sides against the night.
Good Duke Cadarn told me once to look upon my father’s name before the legacy of Karlennon, with your permission lords and friends I do depart and wish you well these days to come, the White Hart runs beyond the bounds of Marchwood now, and I am bound to follow.”