House of Constantine
“To conquer or die”
“You can’t keep on chasing fairy tales and playing a hero knight all your life Richard. One day you will rule these lands and you will find they will be no time to play the good lord of the woods. Life is harsh, and ruling is harder.”Richard IV; Richard Constantine the IV
Title: De Jure Duke of Gallice; Lord of the Citadel of Tempeak, Sovereignship of the lands of Thorex and Duer. Loyal subject of the crown of Frankmark and the Pontetate Empire.
Age: Twenty-Four summers
Ethnic Origins: Frankish
Appearance: Richard is a handsome and youthful man with short and shaggy brown hair, hazel eyes, and a closely shaven face. He has a hard stare, which betrays his lack of patience for the foolish, the ignorant and the arrogant, but a soft face that the elements have been kind to evidence that his life has been easy. One could say he is the idealistic Frankish noble. An attractive yet rugged a man with a chalice in one hand and a sword in the other, of course, Richard prefers the sword and the shield, to the parley of the chalice and suckling roast over the fire.
Personality: Richard would rather take plate of arms, a sturdy shield a noble horse and a sharped blade on the wettest of days in the dark woods of Frankmark over festivities in the warm halls of Tempeak on a cool winter’s night.
Richard has never tried to escape his noble birth, nor has he truly tried to accept it. He was enraptured with tales of knights and crusaders in his youth, striking down terrible foes for the good of his fellow man. For this, he became a competent fighter and leader of men on the field but almost completely ignored the upbringing of lordly duties, while he is not completely blind to the politics of the word, he does indeed fear it. He is aware that the world he’s meant to rule is not as straight forward as ensuring the pointy end of the blade pierces his enemies and so has done his best to avoid it. Often hunting or patrolling with his knights when his father has requested that he attend meetings by his side.
His father’s recent ailing in health has suddenly thrown the young Richard into the seat of the Duke of Gallice. A seat he had not hoped to inherit yet, a seat he is not sure he can handle but as fire tempers steel, so hardship can temper the human soul.
Bio: Shadows danced against the patterned stonework of the inner chamber. Several of the candles had reached their end and fizzed out, many carried on. Lowly stubs and wax storks that dripped over their holders. Richard marched down the hall with some haste; he had been out patrolling the Dark Woods for the better part of the week. Raiders, bandits, flock thieves, rapists, whatever they came across, whatever he could put a sword to. This was a regular occasion now, since his father fell ill he found any excuse he could to keep away from Tempeak.
He would not have returned this day if it were not for the news that his father had gotten worse.
“Umberto,” Richard came to a halt in front of his younger brother. Well-groomed and wearing silk finery for the warm summer nights, but built like a lonely twig in winter. A stark contrast to Richard who was in mail armour and mud that covered him up to his thighs.
“Father has been asking for you.”
“Of course he has,” Richard pulled off his gloves and handed them to Umberto who took them, rather hesitantly. Sweat and dried blood from whom, Richard could not say. “Water?” Richard asked pointing towards a wooden jug on the table.
“Yes. He fairs well, for now, he has been resting for the better part of the day. Cornelia is inside with him.” Richard poured himself some water as he listened, shifting uncomfortable at the name of his father new wife, he drank deep from his cup. “I’ll go in now.” He said setting down the cup.
“Richard, you have no need to carry this burden alone. Allow me to aid you and if you ask, relieve you of it all together.”
Richard did no linger for long on his brother’s words. It would be the same answer as before. “Father’s word is final, brother.” He did not turn back to his brother as he entered the room, but he knew that there was frustration and spite there as he left him behind.
There was a heavy scent lingering in the room as he entered, ‘the Dreamers Incense’ the apothecaries called it. They said it eased pain and helped suffers sleep. The room was thick with it. In the bed was a once great man who stood high amongst others, now brought down by mortal whims. His once flowing oaken hair now grey and blue eyes gaunt and milky, he was weak… very weak.
“How does he fair?” Richard made gentle steps towards the edge of the bed where Cornelia sat. She was a fair maiden, only of twenty-one years with summer kissed blonde hair that reached down to her bosom when not plaited, a woman from a lesser house from Sophorell, though, a rich enough family. His father was good at securing ties with money. “He managed to stomach some of his porridge.” She swirled a spoon around a half-empty bowl that rested on her lap. “He’s been asking for you all day.” She appeared sad as she looked up at him, the fire from the hearth caught her opal eyes as they begun to gloss over. Richard stood uneasily for a moment, hoping that she would not start bursting out in tears, thankfully she did not.
“Of course he has,” Repeating his words from earlier taking a step closer to the bed.
A voice croaked and the bed stirred, a pair of empty eyes fixed on Richard. “Yes father.” The man in the bed gestured over to the chalice on the bedside table. Cornelia rushed over bringing the chalice to his lips. A fine red liquid ran down his chin, which his wife dutifully dabbed up with a cloth.
“Cornelia. Leave us, I wish to speak to my son.”
He did not hesitate on his orders and left the room in a hushed rush. There was a silence between them, the cackle of fire behind them, and the odd chirp of the birds from outside. Richard waved away some of the incense that had snaked around him.
“I trust your annual hunting went well?”
“Very well indeed,”“It’s a shame you don’t show the same dedication to ruling our lands.”
“I’m keeping our lands safe.”“We have soldiers for that! Our people need someone to be politic, not a warrior king.”
It was often the same, Richard would hear news that his father’s health was slowly degrading, and he would rush back to Tempeak. Only to find it was a ploy so he could be lecturer on becoming Duke. His father was now sitting up, life back in his face as he gulped down the wine. “Umberto said I should broaden my tastes, told me to try Estradee wine.” He set the chalice down with distaste. “It is reasons like that why Umberto is not fit to become a count, let alone a Duke. Go fetch me some Duer port, over there, the upper cupboard.”
Richard went over and retrieved a green bottle with a label that had delicate sketches of flowers in the corners. ‘200 A.B’ the label read. He pulled out the cork, which sounded off with a satisfying pop and poured a fresh batch of Frankish wine for his father.
“You know me Richard; I am an open man to our southern neighbours, just not their wine.” There was a laugh from the pair of them before silence once more. “Was I that much of a terrible father to you which is why you resist your right? Do you do this out of spite Richard! Did I offend you so greatly to see this house to ruin?”
“Of course not… I would never have wished for a better father.”“Then why do you resist this fate Richard?”
Richard did not know why, he just did. The thought of him on a seat, dealing with the politics, the internal factions within this kingdom and the effects of every detail were uneasy for him to contemplate him. It was a trapping thought. He did not want it. “I don’t know,” He lied, “And why are you so resistant of Umberto ruling in your stead?”
“I love Umberto but know this,” He placed the chalice back on the table with a heavy slam. “Umberto is a fool! He is ignorant to how this world actually works, he feels that once he has power he’ll be respected and the other lords and dukes will bow before him and he will be invited to the Queen’s quarters and allowed to fuck her. He will only care to rule for himself, not for the land. He will cast it into ruin.”
“And what makes you believe I won’t do the same?”
“Because my son, you are not a fool! You may try to act ignorant, you may even play the part well, but you are no a fool. You have not once taken advantage of your stature as a noble or as a member of this house. People need rulers who are resilient and Umberto isn’t strong enough for what is coming in the future.”
“Oh?” Richard grabbed the chair that Cornelia had inhabited, brining it closer to his father and sat. “What is coming?”
It was a single word. A word that Richard knew was true enough.
“War. You can’t keep on chasing fairy tales and playing a hero knight all your life Richard. One day you will rule these lands and you will find they will be no time to play the good lord of the woods. Life is harsh, and ruling is harder.”
“You must be ready my son, remember the words.”
To Conquer or Die.