Amidst the sand
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40 Cypruss - 1228
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Amidst the sand
Author :Sighe
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40 Cypruss - 1228

Known for sublime stretches of sand, rugged wine-growing lands and dramatic cliffs, it was unsurprising that the region was littered with an array of natural wonders. And while I had but limited interest for these marvels, as my energy was concentrated towards the upcoming negotiations with the reigning class of Cyprus, I did appreciate the scarce moments I spend amidst the wild nature of this island.

Lemesos was located at the west end of the sea-front behind the harbour, on the seashore beside the river Garyllis. The castle was characterised by brusque and rustic architecture. Missing the refinement and politesse that palaces or other castles might afford: the Cypriot castle was build like a true fortress. It was erected on the site of an earlier Byzantine hold; the thick stone walls dated from centuries back.

The decor itself, like everything else within the donjon, was limited to the essential; meaning that all was provided, but missed the ornaments I so readily took for granted in my palaces in the empire. Chairs there were, and ornamented were their backs, but none were of quality work. As were the tables and armoires and the cloths on the beds. The tapestry was scarce, and I seldom found one that piqued my interest.

Nevertheless, it suited my needs, as it was provided with a network of cells beneath its fortalice walls; ever so convenient and necessary, in my opinion, when one pursues the installation or renewal of power within a region.

Five days after our arrival, we were to negotiate terms in Lakarna. About half a day from Lemesos.

Hysterical barking welcomed us. The hall was full of dogs, at least five, all jumping up and dashing about and making a terrific racket. Louis, dandified in a new coat and a plumed hat for the occasion,- a raiment that did not agree with the torrid weather, was nearly overrun by them.

Henrich of Ceprano, the host, bluff, friendly and coarse-looking, stood in his hall amidst the leaping and barking animals.

"Quiet! Quit! Down!" He then turned to me, "welcome, your eminence. Pay no attention, they're impossible. Stop it, you willful things! Come this way. Just ignore them. They're perfectly harmless, just obstinate."

At the table and spread about the room in small groups stood the men of the Cristian baronies; remarking the scenery and some elderly nigh falling asleep. Closest to the windows sat Maria Armann. Having reached Lakarna somewhat earlier, in the company of Phillip, she had primed the room in our arrival. Around her but standing, were some of her companions, Julia Comnena: stiff and highly correct. The count of Agridi: a corpulent man of sixty and highly conscious of his position. The Duchess of Filan: a grave but kind woman in her mid-fifties. Johann of Nocera: a very large man, cringing and time-serving, aged about forty.


Amongst them was Phillip, wearing decorous black, as usual, seated on the upholstered chair next to Maria Armann and in deep conversation with the woman.

Not too far off, at a side-table, two secretaries, having prepared alloy pens and their inkstands, were inconspicuously sharing a meal, waiting for the event to commence.

"I quite enjoy this," Louis said, resting upon his cane. It was not to discern from his expression by someone who wasn't familiar with him, but the tiny creases by his eyes told me his sentiment was genuine.

"What? Begging for their compliancy?" I said with half a laugh.

"No, it's like hunting. Look at them. They're like hares and pheasants. Lulled into complacency by free drinks and tiny confections."

I could barely hold back a smile. "You are terrifying."

"Me? Hardly so. Here we go." He turned towards Henrich of Ceprano: "you're all too kind to have received us here."

"It's an honour."

"Congratulations on the theatre in Scala. You've been doing some great things. It was highly entertaining last time I was here."

"Your praise me too much."

Tedious as I was with their polite discourse, I straightened my back, gave them their privacy, and looked further about the room.

Surrounded by a modest entourage, John of Ibelin was standing on the far end of the room. He was a man of forty-two years of age, tall, and bony. he had a hooked nose, and his hair, like his beard, was thick and curly, and in spite of his age but slightly interspersed with a few silver threads. He was known as a principled man, and seen as the natural leader of the Christian barons in the Holy Land.

I had arrived with the clear intent of stamping my authority on the kingdom, but was treated cordially by the native barons until a dispute arose between me and John of Ibelin. I erred by claiming that his regency was illegitimate and demanded the surrender of John's mainland fief of Beirut to the imperial throne. Sadly, John pointed out that the kingdoms of Cyprus and Jerusalem were constitutionally separate and he could not be punished for offences in Cyprus by seizure of Beirut.

And so I chose more drastic measures.

It was not a week after the failed negotiations that Madeleine of Ibelin, who had been born as the Lady of Arsuf, entered the halls of Lemesos. She was pale and gaunt yet still proud and dignified.
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Next to her strode her husband, John of Ibelin.

I had called for their company under the pretence of a gregarious banquet. The couple was directed to their seat and invited to share their meal with me and the small assembly, while several floors under this festive scene, their political allies had already been confided.

They conducted themselves with deference and affable diplomacy, but I, pressured and impatient, led to confront them with my armed guards rather than the food upon my table. And thus, John was forced to hand over the regency, and Cyprus, to my control.

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