‘Ad Montes Oculos Levavi’
The Queen’s Herald was able to catch the Duke of Keswick for a short interview. We had to climb a fell for the privilege.
Who are you?
I am Wyndrake Winterheart, of House Winterheart in the Dragonspine. I have the honour to be Duke of Keswick – Lord of the Fells. I have the duties of Marshal of the Order of the Pendragon, the General of the Order of the Trinity, and of a Sheriff of Albion. I am Steward of the Archduchy of Naseby, and the Queen’s Herald.
What brought you to Court?
*His Grace seemed pensive after I asked this question. In waiting for an answer, I was able to experience one of his famous middle-distance stares, and felt, from nowhere, the chill of the wind on the nape of my neck*
I first came to Court in 1112. I had never left the Dragonspine, and I did not think I ever would. Clan Winterheart has duties in the High Fells, to the realm and to the clans, and that was my future, and I was prepared for that.
Upon a ranging in the High Fells, I was caught in a swift snowstorm. Nothing I hadn’t dealt with before, so I took shelter in a nearby cave.
The High Fells are treachorous even when the weather is clear, and the storm did not abate. I made myself comfortable to wait the snows out.
The snows, I must say, were more patient than I was.
*His Grace grew quiet for a few moments at this point*
I was cold. Very cold.
You must understand our ways…when winter approaches, many of the older folk of the Clans go ranging. Some return in the Spring, but many never do, Those that do, they tell of the danger, in the Heart of Winter, of the killing cold.
I did not presume to leave that cave ever again. Though the cold took me, I woke. The snows had fallen, the skies were clear. I felt in my bones that I had slept for at least a day and a night.
When I returned to my Grandfather’s keep on the shores of the Wintermere, my Grandfather embraced me as if he had not seen me in an age.
I did not know it, but I had been missing for fourteen nights.
Two weeks, asleep, in a cave?
Aye, it sounds unbelievable, I know. But I believe it to be true. When I didn’t return after a time, the Clans sent rangers into the High Fells for a whole week, but they could find no trace.
But it felt shorter to you?
It felt…I cannot put into words how it felt. The cold took me, and…forgive me, I have not spoken of what happened to me with anyone but my Grandfather, and…I do not intend to speak further on it. Not yet.
But, to answer your initial question – what do I want? I want to serve the Realm. And what happened to me in that cave…well, I came to understand that I could serve Albion better than wandering the Fells until the end of my days.
And so the following day, I set forth to attend the Royal Court of King Edward, and here I now stand as a member of the Royal Court of Queen Eloise.
What do you want?
I wish to help realise all that Albion Once was, And all that it in the Future it has the potential to be.
Who is your hero?
My hero is my fellow Albione, new to court, uncertain of their place or worth, who despite this stands forward on the gate and defends the camp, who picks up their fallen comrade and carries them to safety, who wields Excalibur in the face of our foes, and protects the realm with all that they do.
What’s your biggest flaw?
A lack of faith in myself. But with the support of the Pendragon Throne, the Order of the Pendragon, and the good folk of Keswick, I am working to remedy this.
If invited to a banquet which ffiive people would you invite to your table and why?
Feasting in Keswick can sometimes be a meager fayre, but every host is generous with their mead, and the evenings often stretch long into the next morning. I apologise though, for my table seats seven.
Arthur Pendragon, High King of Albion, to whom my kin are bound in blood and in bond. I would wish to speak with him of his vision for the Albion, and Britannija, which fate did not allow him to realise in his time due to the foul War of Usurpation at the hands of his own nephew.
Our mutual forebear, Coel, the Winter Heart, King in the Fells, who ruled the North of Britannia centuries before the Empire rose. I would like to learn from him the Old Ways, and hear the tales of his reign that have been lost to time and fallen from memory.
Breeana Fellbourne, an elf maiden of my folk, the Fellborn of the Dragonspine, for whom I have much affection. The long, cold nights in the Dragonspine are made warm and wonderous by her very presence.
Theo D’Arby, Lord Regent of Albion when I first arrived at Court, now Royal Huntsman, and my Brother of the Order of the Pendragon. He has always been to me the very paragon of honour, and everything an Albione should aspire to be, and is indeed my role model.
Echo, a Mage of Albion, with whom I would relish more time to converse. As Lord of the Court of the Table, I feel I could learn a lot from him.
Her Most Gracious and Excellent Majesty, Queen Eloise Hunter, for whom I have much affection for. In the days I knew her as Eloise, before the Trinity called her to serve, she was one of the most warm and welcoming of the Harts, and helped me feel at home at Court.
And of course, my honoured grandfather, Royston Winterheart, Chieftain of Clan…or rather, House Winterheart, who has raised me, been my teacher, my liege, my greatest supporter, and my best friend.
I would share guest right with these people, and happily invite them to take a seat at my table, that we might take mead together and speak from one sunset to the next.
Why does your table seat seven?
Seven is a lucky number to me.
If someone could create a magical item for you what would it be?
I should like an item of my folk’s legendary progenitor, Coel, the Winter Heart.
It is said that when winter made war on him, he defeated it in such a way that it became part of him, and he wore the mark of winter as a badge of honour, and as armour.
From then on he did not freeze in the coldest of times, and, like the coming of winter, no weapon or magic could immobilise his ceaseless march.
What is best in life?
A roaring fire in the heart of winter, a cup of hot, mulled mead, the company of loved ones, and the chance to release a contended sigh in the knowledge that the people are well, the land is safe, and that the Spirit of Albion endures.
Tea or cake?
Tea – I’ll take it as it’s given, and thank you for it.