No man shall prosper
This is part two of a three part story. If you have not already read the first part, check it out here. Otherwise, read on!
(But have a care: TW for abuse/abusive relationship).
Ni malvat, armat, galiador
Ni mensongier, guerrayador
Ni encara gentilhom
Any hope Mercè had that life would have the decency to slow down, even for a moment, after her Birthday celebration, was near instantly dashed by events on the night itself. Her two suitors, Tomàs and Bernardon, were near mirror image of one another. Tomàs was tall, dark haired, muscled. He arrived sporting what instantly struck Mercè as an irritating affectation of a finely-coiffed beard.
Bernardon, on the other hand was tall, broad, a very bear of a man: but despite his proportions, less given to hirsute display than Tomàs. Neither seemed capable of holding a conversation for longer than two minutes without resorting to tales of personal glory, mostly related to their hunting achievements. Though Bernardon, appointed, aged 12, as an officer in his father’s guard, had once been involved in a minor border skirmish. Though to hear him tell of it, this was a battle, the like of which had scarce been seen since the world was made.
Both, Mercè observed soon enough, were given to covering up gaps in conversation by taking deep draughts of whatever liquor happened to be circling at the time. And both, as so often the way where young men and too much wine are mixed, were growing ever more boastful and — not to put too fine a word on it — pushy, as the evening wore on.
The final straw came around an hour before midnight. Mercè, listening but half-heartedly, pricked up her ears at mention of “terreta d’enlòc” — literally “nowhere land”. This was a small patch of land sat at the intersection of four ancient lands: Cassonne; Auvergne and Ortès, whence her suitors came; and the small but fiercely defended mountain-top kingdom of Aiguesa. This odd little place, she remembered with fondness, had served as occasion for her first ever excursion into the world of politics.
The memory caused her to smile. Studying the geography of Cassonne and its surroundings she had been puzzled to discover a small area of land, just on the north-west border of Cassonne, marked, simply “Terr. En L.”. This was strange, corresponding to no place she had ever heard of. So later that day, over dinner, she spoke of her find to her parents.
“Ah! Terreta d’enlòc!” her father boomed. Then, turning and grinning at her mother: “Our girl has found nowhere!”. The Queen responded with one of her tolerant smiles. It was an expression, Mercè was coming to recognise, that signified much: not least in respect of her mother’s patience when faced with her father’s latest poor attempt at humour. But beyond the tolerance, the patience, Mercè could tell, lay genuine feeling. So she, too, was learning to smile and wait, patiently, until such time as the King should deign to explain.
He quickly did so. “It is a small patch of land that belongs to every state — and none. It is not ours, not Auvergne’s, not anyone’s. So it has been for nigh on five hundred years now.
“Oh?” I was genuinely puzzled. “Is the land of such poor quality, then?”
“Not at all. In fact, this particular terreta includes some of the best grazing in all four of the lands that surround it!”
“OK. So if it is so valuable, why have we not simply stretched out and taken it for ourselves?”
“Foolish girl!” This, I must assure you, was not my father, who never once so much as raised his voice to me, but Bertran, who oft sat with the royal family to eat of an evening. “Would you want to set the four realms to war once more?”
“Bertran!” My father put out one hand as a sign of calm: “Mercè has barely begun her studies in this matter. And if she does not understand the significance of the terreta, is it she that should be blamed? Or her teacher?”
That made me smile. My principal tutor, since I was old enough to write my name, had been Bertran: and my father, for all that he might be deficient when it came to a sense of humour, was nonetheless shrewd enough to deflect Bertran’s acid tongue with a gentle teasing criticism of his own.
“Why, no, Senhor”. I swear that that night Bertran, usually so composed, turned red and blushed. Though he covered quickly enough: “I only meant that the terreta is a delicate issue and the young Princess must understand the balance that needs to be maintained.”
“And I am sure, in the fullness of time, and under your expert guidance, Bertran, she will.”
And that, for the time being, was that. Though later, both Bertran and my father took care to explain the background to me. How a long time ago, the area now belonging to no-one had been a source of near perpetual conflict between its neighbours: and how Cassonne, which on its own should be strong enough to annexe it, found itself regularly opposed by an alliance of two, sometime three other realms whenever it tried to do so
How much blood deserves to be spilt over mere pasture? However rich? Troubadours and chroniclers alike gave up long ago on the accounting. So many bittersweet songs by the trobairitz, the women who sang of Cassonne’s sadness. And so, too, in the end, did each realm give up on whatever claim they believed to be endorsed by blood or history or some mystical belief in its own destiny.
Not that they would ever admit to having done so. This was the secret that Bertran vouchsafed to Mercè, and that Mercè soaked up instinctually. Because, of course, the problem was all that blood-spilling and honour. Much as they might wish to give up on a cursed enterprise that cost far more than it was worth. But to admit such would never do. So in the end, they just stopped. Fighting. Posturing. Caring. And they left the local inhabitants to breathe a sigh of relief and get on with their lives.
No treaty was ever negotiated. The legal status of the terreta remains unclear to this day. No-one is sure if the leaders of the four realms even discussed the matter. But in the end, there was peace, and people stopped dying for a small and ultimately useless piece of land.
So: were Tomàs and Bernardon engaged in some gentlemanly discussion of the matter? Not a bit of it! One or other — it was never clear who first — had loudly explained why THEIR kingdom was true owner of the land. The other disputed that claim. Voices were raised. And at the point where Mercè found herself involved, each was on the point of reaching for his sword: ceremonial pieces, both, as befitted the occasion. But no less deadly for that.
Around them, their respective entourages were dividing. Some were trying to calm the situation. Others, thankfully fewer in number, were also reaching nervously for their weapons. “Damn it!” Mercè swore under her breath. “This is not how I would wish my birthday remembered!”
Since none other was there to intervene, Mercè took matters into her own hands. Wishing, for half a moment, that she had defied Seurine and brought a weapon of her own to the party, she strode forward and pointedly placed herself between the two young men.
“Gentlemen! Gentlemen!”, she lied, as several other choicer, more accurate terms to describe this pair of idiots sprung to mind. Which of you will be the first to toast my 21 years?” In hindsight, Mercè realised, that was not the best suggestion: since any hint of rivalry between the two seemed inevitably to bring out the worst in them.
Still, the change of topic worked wonders: a nod and a meaningful look at the captain of her own guard, and others were soon on hand to assist.
“I believe”, she offered pleasantly, “our friends from Auvergne and Ortès may be in need of a helping hand to show them to their quarters.” And that was that. Unpleasantness avoided. Both suitors lived to fight another day, which, given how events later turned out, was ironically prescient.
Even Bertran, on the morrow, dropped by to offer grudging praise: to thank her for averting a diplomatic incident. Or worse.
Then the bad news.
The raising of tempers the previous evening meant that both of the wooing princelings were now desperate to win Mercè’s hand. And while she hoped that desire had something to do with the clever way in which she had handled events the previous evening, she suspected it had far more to do with one-upmanship and boyish jealousy. Never destined to be friends, Bernardon and Tomàs were now sworn enemies: and the very idea that one might beat the other to the hand of the Princess — or, as she remembered, Queen, as of midnight, several hours previous — was quite unthinkable.
So each, accompanied by their own gaggle of courtiers and advisers and plain hangers-on was now engaged in a less than dignified auction for the Princess’ hand. Ortès had just offered fishing rights at the mouth of the great river Rabeg to Cassonne, which Mercè felt was a less than glittering prize. Cassonne had little by way of fishing fleet, and few, she suspected would be interested in taking up such a proposal.
Auvergne, on the other hand, was talking concessions to the vintners: and since wine was that much more tradeable, and so much more to the liking of Cassonne’s merchants than fish, the Regent Council was leaning increasingly toward Tomàs.
“Does it count that I found both Princes to be the most unutterable boors?” Mercè attempted, pointlessly. For she knew in advance what Bertran’s answer would be.
“Senhora”. Ah: formality. The palatableness of Bertran’s views was oft in inverse proportion to the politeness in which he wrapped them! “I can only sympathise with your feelings. But politics is politics. And it is unlikely that Cassonne will ever again be in a position to choose between two such advantageous offers”.
In the end, the deal was done. Within a week of her birthday, Mercè found herself betrothed to Tomàs of Auvergne. Then, because Bernardon’s displeasure manifested quickly enough in the manoeuvring of troops a lot closer to Cassonne’s border than previous custom, it made sense that the period of betrothal be a short one. For Bernardon had advanced much since the days his father first granted him his officer commission: was now, for all practical purposes, in command of Ortès over-large and brutally efficient army.
Mercè and Tomàs were married little more than three months after and Mercè was surprised, pleased, fearful and much more beside when she found herself a matter of weeks later with child.
Queen, wife, and very soon, mother, too. All within the space of a year. Time, it seemed, had saddled up its fastest horse and was galloping recklessly into Mercè’s future: and Mercè was not entirely sure she approved the direction of travel.
Other things were changing, too. The regent council, while, in theory, less powerful, with a Queen and Consort occupying the throne, remained nonetheless a power in the land and Tomàs was quick to suggest that, since he was now Consort, it would be only fair if the Council also now included a few individuals to represent his “interests”.
“In what way” Mercè inquired acidly “were the interests of the Prince Consort at variance with those of his kingdom?”
Tomàs mumbled something indistinct and reached for his goblet of wine. It was a habit, Mercè noticed, he was much given to; and the more he did it, the more she found it irritated her. But for the sake of peace over the supper table, she gave him a couple of places on the Council, hoping that would suffice to assuage his sense of slight. Besides, Bertran was still there and he would more than balance any half dozen Tomàs partisans.
At the same time, Mercè noticed, to her dismay, a creeping increase in the number of red-and-gold uniformed soldiers around the palace. These, of course, were Tomàs personal guard, marched in from Auvergne and now grudgingly sharing over-crowded barracks with her own guard.
Again, politely, she inquired why Tomàs needed his men there when he was now her Consort and co-ruler in a kingdom that owed allegiance to the two of them. This time, he did not even deign to make excuse. “I trust them”, was all he had to say on the subject: and that was that.
Perhaps matters would have turned out differently had Mercè not been forced to take confinement for the second half of her pregnancy. The very idea of taking herself out of the public gaze and hiding away in her chamber was quite alien to her. But after a glorious and radiant first trimester, a sickness set in and, in no time at all, Mercè found she just too ill to attend to matters of state. Yes. She would sign the odd decree as her Ministers brought them to her: would read papers and reports put forward by the council. But her heart was not in it. Her involvement in the governance of Cassonne became that much more distant.
Then, following a hard birth, a long convalescence during which she found herself allowing the joy of new motherhood to distract her from other matters, she continued to stay away from the council, from palace politics, above all, from Tomàs, for as long as she could. Because, she told herself, he could do little damage without her consent: and the less time she was now forced to share his company or, worse, his bed, the better it suited her.
Too, Mercè was in love all over again. For now there was a young Princess to follow in her footsteps. Jenofa, her child, her beautiful daughter. Never before had Mercè felt so for any single human. Not her parents, despite she missed them still every single day. Nor for a husband whose presence she barely tolerated. So it was that much easier to pass her days with Jenofa and Seurine and to tell herself, against every scream of instinct, that all would be well. That, surely, she deserved to step back for now. For a while. And in the end, all would be well.
Bad, bad mistake.
When finally Mercè put on her formal robes once more and stirred herself to attend a council for the first time in over two years, much had changed: and none of it for the better. Bertran was gone. In his place, a weasel of a man who she’d first noticed on the night of her birthday. Drust was his name, and he’d stood by Tomàs as the altercation with Bernardon began: had even, she remembered, laid a hand on the pommel of his own sword, apparently convinced that the proper way to lighten the mood was through addition of another blade.
Alongside him, far too many faces that Mercè only vaguely recognised. Several that were Auvergne nobility and one, as she guessed from the flash of red and gold on his cloak, some captain in the Auvergne army.
On the agenda, to her dismay, terreta d’enlòc, the “nowhere land”, cause of so much bloodshed in years past. The captain began with a report on the army’s preparedness for war: or rather, the preparedness of the armies, since he seemed to take for granted that the forces of Cassonne and Auvergne now counted as one. From there the meeting glided slickly on to intelligence on the disposition of Ortès’ forces.
Aghast at the implication, Mercè sat silent for as long as she dared. Then, fixing Tomàs with an icy glare, she began: “why are we even discussing this matter?”
Drust, who had been speaking, stopped in mid-flow. He appeared surprised that any should question him on this, least of all a woman. His response, outwardly polite, came dripping with sarcasm.
“Dòmna. It was agreed by the Council some months hence that the happy occasion of the marriage of yourself and his Majesty, Senhor Tomàs provides, at last, for a settlement of this irregularity that lies on the border between Cassonne and Auvergne. Aiguesa has agreed it has no further interest in the matter. So the combined forces of Cassonne and Auvergne should be more than sufficient to take and hold the land against the usurping Ortan dogs!
Mercè bit her tongue at the obvious and deliberate slight, designed to set her on edge: marking her husband’s title, while addressing her as dòmna, as though she were but lowly Lady’s maid! Yet if Bertran could not unnerve her, this rude upstart would not do so!
“It has been Cassonne custom — policy, even! — for centuries to allow this land to continue as it has done. It harms no-one by existing as it does. In Goddess’ name: why would you even consider spilling blood over so trivial a matter?”
“Trivial m’dòmna?” Ah: still the rudeness. No man could be so stupid: it must be calculated! Yet Tomàs sat by, doing nothing to stop or correct him. “You care nothing for the rule of law? Or the slight that Ortès delivers daily against your people?
He was not done: “I am sure, in days gone by, when Bertran was whispering his old womanly platitudes into your ears, you believed you were doing good by failing to protect your people from Ortès. But these are matter of state, perhaps not best suited to a feminine temperament.”
“Do. Not. Lose. Your. Temper” Mercè’s entire body was rigid. Every detail of the room was printed graphically upon her brain. Behind her eyes, she felt the beginnings of a headache, such as she had not felt in several years. Yet what could she say or do? A glance around the table told her that in any simple vote on the matter, she would lose.
Outside the council, her word remained law. But the law was only as strong as the army tasked with upholding it: and with all the Auvergne troops she had seen about the palace of late, she was no longer sure she could enforce her will in her own realm. Besides, what was she thinking? Was she so far drawn into her husband’s madness that she should contemplate waging war within her own domain? Unthinkable!
She stood and dipped her head in polite acknowledgement of Drust.
“Lad!” she called him. It was petty but she was feeling petty and if it came to trading insults she would match Drust word for word. “I see there is little I can add here. So I shall withdraw. For now.”
Turning on her heel, she gathered her cloak to her and strode out into the corridor and back to her quarters. There she found Seurine supervising Jenofa’s morning play. She was still Mercè’s loyal nurse and confidante: but like Mercè, her allegiance was moving onward to the next generation. Mercè did not blame her!
Entering quietly, so as not to disturb them, Mercè settled herself on a large cushion. She was still smouldering inside. But sat back and watching Seurine coo and bill over Jenofa: watching Jenofa, in turn giggle back at the older woman; she felt her mood lifting.
For a few minutes more, Seurine continued to entertain the young Princess. Then, marking her Mistress’ arrival, and her unaccustomed silence, she gently detached herself. “You stay there, pet, and look: La Seurina has brought you paints!”
And then she was with Mercè. “Good day, Senhora. What brings you here at this hour?”
Mercè shrugged. “Politics. Men. A bunch of fools who see glory in getting themselves killed. Which I’d not mind so much. Except they are going to drag Cassonne and Auvergne and Ortès — and who knows how many other realms into their stupidity!”
“So what is new?”
“Nothing. I think we are going to war. And I can do nothing to prevent it.”
“Surely we would not?”
Mercè laughed bitterly. “You’d think. But I have stayed away from affairs of state too long. Oh: I knew that useless husband of mine had some bad ideas. But never for an instant could I imagine he would have done so much to make them happen in the short time I was away.”
She told Seurine how she had passed the previous hour: when she was done, Seurine let out a sigh of exasperation. “Senhora! Mèstra mia! My mistress: that is terrible. And Drust: he had the gall to address you as ‘dòmna’?”
“…sat by and said nothing. I wondered if he might come to me when I left, but no. His plans mean far more to him now than the goodwill of the Queen. Of his wife. Perhaps he is right. Had I not been so quick to trust, none of this would be happening.”
“Mai floron, my sweet: mai floron
“Do you not remember? Twas always said of our realm:
Ni malvat, armat, galiador
Ni mensongier, guerrayador”
Never shall the fraudster, gangster, bully
The liar or the warrior
Prosper in Cassonne
But you forgot the last line: Ni encara gentilhom! Nor even any man!”
“But not true. Oh. It’s a pretty rhyme alright. But look around, Seurine: look around! Everywhere today the warrior and the cheat are feted and given pride of place.”
“Ah. Mercède would never have stood for it.”
“Mercède? Oh. You mean my great-grandmother?”
“You know my father wished to name me after her: but my mother felt that to do so would be…controversial.
“A Queen who never marries — and yet produces a Princess and heir will always attract whispers.”
Seurine laughed: “Whispers, indeed. But she was, too, the last Queen in Cassonne to lead an army out in the field. And she’d not have stood one second for Drust’s insolence: would have had him horse-whipped first — and had his head on a spear by evening.”
“That she might: but then, she ruled alone. Whereas I, I fear, may have been mortally wounded by the addition of a ‘helpmate’.”
“You must not think such”, Seurine re-assured.
Still, her mood remained low as Seurine and Jenofa took their leave. She lay down, in hope of calming her throbbing head. But there was to be little chance of that. That afternoon, Tomàs came to her. Only now, she realised, how infrequently he had come of late. Half-expecting an apology, some sweet words of soothing, she was startled by the anger in Tomàs’ tone and words:
“How dare you!” He began.
“How dare I?”
“You embarrassed me, in front of the entire Council!”
“I embarrassed you?”
“Would it be indelicate for me to remind you that the Regent Council served the Queen long before it served her consort: and now it exists to provide advice to the two of us? As it did in the time of my parents, and their parents before them. Not just you!”
“A quaint fiction! What know you of ruling a kingdom?”
“Kingdom? I think not. Never in recorded history has Cassonne been subject to the whims of a king.”
“Which mayhap is why, with such advantages of place and position, it has never assumed the role that it could do in the world. That, though, is long overdue change.”
“What do you mean?”
“In a week, two weeks, we will be at war with Ortès. And we shall win easily enough. Bernardon is to the north of his country right now: far distant from where we will strike the first blow. By the time he realises what we are about, the armies of Cassonne and Auvergne will have split Ortès in two. He will sue for peace.
“And when he does that, how do you think our peoples will regard the one who brings them such victory? He will be proclaimed King and you: you will retire to your chambers to spin or sew or whatever it is you do best.”
“How do you know so much about Bernardon’s movements?”
Tomàs laughed: “I must confess, Cassonne brought little to this plan. Its army is a joke. Yet your network of spies is excellent.”
“They are not spies: they gather intelligence. Their job is to understand. You had no right to turn them to your purposes.”
“Whyever not? Tis clear you have not the slightest appreciation of military matters. I knew it would be waste of breath to consult with you. We needed information. We used what was to hand.”
“You think you understand. Tomàs. But this is the prattling of a small boy. Cassonne has never had Kings: and whatever you think you know of our people, you are wrong. They are happy to be ruled by a Queen: happy to have been spared the bloody civil war that has scarred every single kingdom in our world. A Queen provides stability…”
“A Queen is weak: as you so clearly demonstrated today. Besides, I do not care overmuch whether they salute me as king any time soon. I shall be king in Auvergne presently. And king thereafter in Cassonne, whether I am named such, or consort or some other pretty fiction.”
“And after, we shall ‘get kings. It is well past time you gave me a son! Or if you willn’t I have cousins a plenty. Jenofa shall never ascend the throne in Cassonne. The age of Queens is past.”
Mercè felt the white heat of fury as it built within her. The headache from which she had suffered ever since the Council that morning was erupting in little jagged flashes across her vision. She felt tense, wound up, as though something was waiting to happen.
And yet…and yet…had Tomàs not pushed her just a fraction further: had Tomàs not made one last fatal miscalculation, perhaps nothing would have happened. Perhaps he would have departed to his armies and to whatever fate held in store for him: Mercè would have been the very last of her line — or at least the last Queen; and the course of history would been very different.
But Tomàs’ arrogance had within it a fatal flaw: the seed of its own destruction: and now he took one last step too far.
“Perhaps, since I am due to be gone from Cassonne these weeks hence, we should start work on producing that son. After all, you have been most remiss in your wifely duties of late.”
Almost. Almost. Almost.
He shifted forward, placing one hand on her shoulder. It was a simple enough gesture. In other circumstances, no more than sign of affection between loving couple. His face, though, had about it a hungry look: his eyes roamed greedily across her body.
Not here. Not now.
“Should I remind you? It has been months since you exercised your wifely duty.”
“Aa-a-aargh!” Mercè screamed a scream such as had not been heard in her quarters in many a month. “No-o-o!”
And she pushed. With her hands, she pushed, catching him unawares and sending him stumbling a foot or two back.
At the same time she pushed — was that what it was? — with something buried deep inside. All that tension, and headache and stress erupted outward and Tomàs went flying back across the room. Really flying: propelled up and through the air.
In the background, a low rumble of thunder, accompanied, Mercè swore after, by the sound of lightning striking home. Certes, the apartment filled, sudden, with the sweet, sharp aroma of ozone.
For a moment, Tomàs lay still on the ground, twenty, thirty feet from where she stood. Groaning. Under him, the remains of the small wooden table on which he had landed.
Little less stunned was Mercè herself. What had she done? How had she done it? She had no clue. Knew only that it felt …good. Right. Like exercising a muscle that has long been wrapped in bandages.
Could she do it again? If Tomàs rose up in wrath at what she had just done, how would she defend herself now. She looked around, seeking a knife or other weapon with which to defend herself.
She need not have worried. Tomàs struggled to his feet, still half dazed. As he did so he looked at her across the room: on his face an expression of loathing, mingled, she saw, with fear. The man was terrified of her.
“Witch!”, he started. “Witch! We have ways of dealing with such as you in Auvergne. Do not imagine we have not.”
Indeed, Mercè told herself: she had little doubt of that. Though for now, between her elation at having repulsed the repulsive creature she now understood her husband to be and having him at a disadvantage, she was content to put such matters off til the future.
As, it seemed, was Tomàs. Once on his feet, he turned and, with what dignity he still could muster, limped out of her apartments.
Then he was gone. And that was the last time ever she spoke with him. The last time, too, that she saw him up close. For the very next day, news arrived that Ortès, furious at finding their way to the terreta now blocked by armed guards had retaliated. A small force of Ortan soldiery had captured Cassonne’s men: and much as Tomàs warned, the populace was indignant and baying for blood.
Few, if any, seemed the least concerned that were it not for Cassonne and Auvergne placing their own troops in harm’s way, this would not have happened.
For a week, the city filled with the sounds of men preparing for war. Weapons were forged and assembled. Supply wagons gathered on the great castle field. Knights in their armour strode vainly around the city: most wore the blue surcoat of Cassonne; but more and more there were decked out in the red and gold of Auvergne.
On the last day, not bearing to watch an action that she deemed the ultimate folly, Mercè withdrew to her rooms, emerging just in time to watch the army marching out. Tomàs, astride a great black warhorse, lead the way.
No doubt her absence would be noted, as, increasingly, it seemed, was everything she did now. And when Tomàs returned, in triumph and bearing the spoils of war, it would be but a matter of time before his dreadful plan worked its way out.
Tired. Fearful for herself and her daughter, Mercè retired to her bed that night feeling lower than she had at any time since that dread day when the messenger arrived bearing tidings of her parents: how they had died untimely from plague while visiting and taking aid to Cassonne’s southern provinces.
That, though, was the proper occupation for Queen and Consort. Not this pointless, shameful bickering over a small strip of land.
A week longer she waited: two weeks. Any moment, she expected, a breathless rider would gallop in by Cassonne’s Northern Gate, proclaiming a great victory: and so it was. But not the victory all were expecting.
Instead, the blood-streaked bandaged man ushered into her presence in the throne room had a wild look to him. The news was not just bad.
It was disastrous.
For despite outnumbering Ortès by more than two to one, all that practice on the field of battle had served Bernardon. First he put the combined armies of Auvergne and Cassonne to rout. And then, as Tomàs proved slow or reluctant to surrender, gave the order that any who did not instantly surrender be cut down where they stood.
Many — most, indeed — from Auvergne surrendered. Those from Cassonne, drawn into a pointless rearguard action by Tomàs, were slaughtered in their hundreds. For all the good it did. Tomàs died “heroically”: no doubt some might regard considered this a mark of greatness: Mercè never would. Apart a few stragglers, that Cassonne must look out for in the next few days, its army was no more .
Bernardon was on the road but a few days march behind the messenger: would be in Cassonne in three, four days.
Then those that remained would be required to pay the true reckoning for Tomàs’ pride.
No man shall prosper: Married is Part II of a three part story set in the fantasy universe of Cassonne.
Third and final part can be found here.
If you liked this and would like to read more, drop me a line or say hi on Twitter (@janefae). If you like it, please indicate in the usual fashion.
And if you would like to read the third and final instalment, look out for advance news of it on the Cassonne fan site, now over on Facebook.