Farewell, my lord
March 28, 1085: All the realm is in mourning. After reigning for 19 years, Duke Murchad I dies in a coma at 58. All of his relatives and bannermen, as well as the court of King Erik of Denmark, who fought beside him, come to attend the grandest funeral Ireland has seen in living memory. Murchad took House ua Brian from a modest noble lineage to a legacy that rivals even many of the six lord-claimants of England. His wise rule, tenacity, fearlessness, and skill in battle will be remembered for ages to come.
And thus, I am now Duke Brian II ua Brian, named for Brian I, the progenitor of our great house. At 37, I am just a touch younger than my father was when his reign began. I am a tough soldier just as he was, patient, diligent, and ruthless. Secretly, I am also a coward and taken to gluttony.
The new duchess is my wife, 36-year-old Princess Sigrid of Denmark, sister to King Erik I. She is a charismatic negotiator, humble, diligent, and gregarious. Yet, she has also shown herself to be cruel and short-tempered. If the words of my late father are to be believed, she had two of his spymasters assassinated. If she proves to be my enemy, at least I have already taken the precaution of keeping her close.
Sigrid has given me many children since we were wed 19 years ago. My eldest and heir, Murchad (named for his grandfather), will come of age next year, on the anniversary of his namesake's death. Énna, my second eldest, is 13, and dislikes me greatly as he believes himself a more capable ruler than his elder brother. My third son, Fáelbe, is only 6, and thinks better of me - as do my youngest boy and only girl, 2-year-old Énri and newborn Annábla.
I also have my 15-year-old half-brother, Amalgaid, to contend with. He was born during the time of gavelkind succeession, and still resents that our father bequeathed all of his lands to me in breach of ancient tradition.
I seek to continue my father's quest to make the ua Brians High Kings of Ireland, but my work is cut out for me. I didn't inherit the claims my great-uncle Toirrdelbach fabricated on Kildare or Oriel. On the bright side, Amalgaid is soon to marry Countess Der-Lugdach of Breifne, which will hopefully bring that county into my realm.
My father was well-loved, but many of my new vassals do not think so highly of me. The Norwegian Lord Mayor Skofte of Ormond knows of my cowardice and resents me for it. He would rather see the half-Norwegian Amalgaid have my seat. Bishop Iacob of Tuam, for a variety of reasons, also thinks I am the scum of the earth. I will have to prove them both wrong if I am to build a strong realm.
As my first act in office, I send great uncle Toirrdelbach to do for me as he did for my father, hoping to write my name into the claim he previously created in Kildare.
April 27, 1085: Countess Der-Lugdach of Breifne usurps the title Duke of Connacht from Duke Brian II.
Wha-oh. So, this doesn't mean I lose County Connacht, but it does mean that Der-Lugdach now has a claim on County Connacht, and my claim on County Breifne is weakened. I also no longer meet the "two Ducal titles" requirement for declaring myself King of Ireland. More importantly, it also means she's not looking like she wants to play nice.
June 4, 1085: Earl Muiredach of Desmond dies in a coma at 60. His son, Tadg mac Carthaigh, becomes Duke Brian's new vassal. He is a skilled tactician, though not so much as House ua Brian's own Tadg macDiarmait. The new earl is also a scholar, whose subjects laud him for being just and patient - while they also fear him for being cynical, cruel, and lustful. Though they were rebels at the beginning of Duke Murchad I's reign, the mac Carthaighs have proven themselves one of Munster's most noble and loyal sworn houses in the intervening years.