Calm and storm
An uneventful year. The rebel state of Viken is conquered by Norway.
Dubchoclaigh, Duke Brian's daughter by his mistress, Gormlaith, comes of age. She is a detached priest, charitable but also deceitful and cruel. Like her mother, she is attractive, but her beauty is marred by a disfiguring scar that Duke Brian suspects Sigrid had something to do with.
Der-Lugdach nic Áed, the most notorious rebel in Munster's history and wife to Duke Brian's half-brother Amalgaid, dies in the duke's dungeons at 37.
August 21, 1107:
Woe comes to Munster, as Duke Brian's heir and reconciled son, Énna, dies of severe stress, like his elder brother Murchad before him, at the age of 26.
I've lost my three oldest sons in a crushingly short period of time. It's a good thing I had so many kids, as otherwise I would be in deep trouble right now. For some reason (again, this game rarely ceases to confuse me), my new heir is not my surviving son, Énri, but rather Énna's son, Áed macÉnna. He is only 18, a misguided warrior, greedy cynical, and depressed after his father's passing. My grandson is also just, like me, however, which I believe will make him a good ruler one day.
Norway conquers Cornwall.
A year passes without consequence.
March 22, 1109:
Duke Brian's step-mother, Alfhild, dies a natural death at 79, having outlived her late husband, Duke Murchad, by 24 years. Within a week of the funeral, word arrives that the crusade on Jerusalem has been called off.
Duke Brian's legitimized daughter Dubchoclaigh dies at 19, making her the fourth of his seven children that did not live to see 40. The Duke suspects Sigrid's involvement, and becomes a gluttonous slob in his elderly sorrow.
This is getting
I know people died young a lot in the middle ages, but this is over half of my children at this point, all before 40, and all but one before even reaching 30. I can't even be angry about my vice increasing. It's more than appropriate, given the situation.
Dubchoclaigh had one son, three-year-old Radulf, who will remain part of House ua Brian despite his mother's illegitimate birth.
Meanwhile, England has conquered Oxford, Warwick, and most of Kent (now ruled by the two-year-old Duke Robert II after his father died of an illness.)
July 1, 1109:
A breathless messenger of Duke Brian's Chancellor, Eógan, arrives in the grizzled old crusader's bedchamber and shakes him out of his sedentary stupor. The boy bears a document confirming that claim has finally been fabricated on County Kildare. Duke Brian stirs, dreaming of the battlefield, the only place he has ever found solace. He orders the messenger to fetch his armor immediately.
And just like that, it seems a very small window has opened for the end of my story to change from one of sorrow to one of glory. County Kildare, if conquered, would give me a claim on the Duchy of Meath. If I were to press that claim as well, and make myself Duke of Munster, Connacht, and Meath... I would own just enough of Ireland to declare myself king. I am 62, and going into battle will be risky, but I can't resist the challenge.
My foe, of course, is even older. Duke Máel-Sechlainn of Meath is 67, and he is about to face the wrath of a leader filled with enough sorrow-born desire for bloodshed to stir the very seas.