Under One Kingdom
Two men stood in a musty room that held books and scrolls, endless information that befitted someone like Alfred. A scholar to the end for his infinite desire for knowledge was limitless; however, for someone like Uhtred, this room was nothing short of foreign. The two both had mutual respect for one another, although there was always a massive tension between them. They held each other accountable, and the King needed someone like that in his circle. While his wife kept quiet and gave him competent counsel, there was no denying her abilities and pressure that caused him to reach for his goals. Which led him to have this conversation with Uhtred, the man was brash, but he had the foresight needed.
Uhtred remained tall as he looked through the fragile pages that had endless lines of useless text for him while Alfred paced around the room. There was a neutral expression on his face as he faced the person he needed his opinion and allyship. Without Uhtred, Alfred’s desires would fall nothing short of nothing.
“It is my hope that all kingdoms will become one. United under one god.” Alfred spoke fluently without a pause in his speech as he sat in his chair. He hardly looked kingly, but there was an air of intelligence around him. Since his brother’s death, Alfred began to look more and more like the part designed for him to play. He was ready to take the role that was meant for his brother’s even if it said he would have to sacrifice many things in the end. The unification transcended any other need he had, the whispers of his counsel reasoned him to pursue such an idea.
Alfred’s thin fingers overlapped one another as they came together. Uhtred could only look at him with a mixture of awe and horror. If there were anyone capable of creating unification, it would be Alfred. The man was always one step ahead of others, his mindset on overdrive. Alfred looked pleased that he was able to grab the attention of Uhtred with his desires for a world of unification. The claims he made is nothing short of both a dream that was able to be granted to him if he had the right pieces with him. Uhtred was one of the pawns he needed.
“One king?” Uhtred repeated, slowly as if he didn’t believe the words that were said to him. Looking past the scrolls as he moved closer to the man he had respect for.
“If all man can agree, yes. The birth of a single kingdom called England has to begin here.” Alfred looked into the distance; the image of his ideas was something he was able to see. This was not out of greed but a genuine desire for the people to not have to fight anymore. To be under the guidance of one, then there would no longer be endless wars if there was only one kingdom. To Alfred, this was all possible. He was a man that was unlike any other where he utilized his infinite power along with the courage to fight. Wisdom and brawns had equal standing to him.
“Why do you believe this?” Uhtred snorted, he was not like the others by Alfred’s side. He was the only one that was openly honest. He never conceded or found ways to make Alfred’s ideas come true. Instead, he sought out the terrible mistakes that could appear paired with questions to keep Alfred guessing, which is why he was highly respected.
“There shouldn’t be a divide within this single Kingdom.” There was a wry smile curving on Alfred’s face. The corners of his lips curving upwards as he tilted his head to the side, wondering what Uhtred would say to such impossible words.
“You think this is possible?” The man scoffed this time as he approached him, there was no belief in his eyes, but the interest still reflected from his gaze. Because at the end of the Alfred could be the only one that had a chance of making such a dream come true. “People will not follow this with ease.”
Instead of laughing at Uhtred’s disbelief, Alfred remained positive. The smile remained fixated on his face as he rested his chin on his upturned hands. The look of all-knowing knowledge could is reflected on his face as if he knew that he was going to receive questions this whole time, and each answer had a careful preparation to them. “Decisions are made, and consequences follow, it is the way. Our task is to deal with the present.”
There was a lull of silence between the two, as the answer was beginning to be accepted. Uhtred knew that these were not simple words said out of an idealistic desire. These were genuine claims that had a backing to them. Uhtred knew he would help him; his wishes had a possibility of coming true if he followed this man. However, as if Alfred knew that there had been too much of a severe note between them, he heard Alfred crack a light sound of laughter.
“I want to become a rex pacificus.” A gentle joke made but there was an air of sincerity to it.
The possibility of a king entitled with a kingdom of peace? Impossible but Uhtred would play along, how could he not? There was no way the order would remain without bloodshed. As he looked out the window, the gloominess loomed over them — a constant reminder of the lack of peace. Thus, Uhtred looked back with a snarky expression on his face.
“Does that mean that it will be sunny weather every day in this so-called England?” Uhtred asked, and between the two of them, laughter mingles as usual. Servants watched the two joke about the weather. Each of them knew that the possibility of good weather in this land was highly unlikely, but they couldn’t help but think that it was funny.
“Perhaps.” Came the contrary reply from Alfred but before he could so much as speak anymore there was the sound of the door opening. A soft creak from the weathered-down wooden door as one of his men dragged in a familiar woman. Lagertha, a renowned shieldmaiden and the Queen of Kattegat.
A useful piece to the master plan he had. However, he needed to win her over first though that might be harder than one would imagine. The stubbornness could be seen in her eyes, she was very much a warrior like Uhtred. She was made for battle, for the ruling of her own world. However, she could not be Queen of the new kingdom he had in mind.
“Release me.” She hissed at him as she tried to escape from the chains that kept her locked down. He watched as she strained against the steel but did not have the power to release herself. The words were dipped in anger. “Do you not know who I am?”
Lagertha. That’s who she was, who didn’t know of her. But Alfred didn’t want to pay heed to her name or the many titles attached to her name. That’s not what he needed from her.
“I expect complete obedience from you.” Alfred reminded her, there was steel in his voice that rendered her in shock. The man was not like those she was around, this one had too much wit on him but with a strength to back it. “I have a dream to form one united England, under one god.”
A statement that would cause more harm than good. Lagertha could not wrap her head around such a statement.
“The gods will not be happy with this.” She reminded him as there was an edge to her voice, anger was beginning to rise from within her. This was not what the Gods would have wanted. There was a twist in her stomach and she was trying to figure him out. “You’re no god, you’re a mere man.”
Meaningless words to Alfred, he would soon win her over.
“Soon.” Was Alfred’s response to her.
“Is it possible?” Uhtred interjected, curious as to what Alfred had planned.
“There are strategies I’ve read about. The intellectuals claimed that warriors from the outside networks were assimilated into the current armies and strengthen them. Each of the conquered people contributed to the while.” Alfred spoke with such vivid passion that everyone in the room couldn’t help but sit there in awe as he spoke.
“Impossible.” Lagertha spat, though it didn’t reach Alfred there was a meaning behind it. That she would never be obedient to him.
“Your people will assimilate under your orders.” Alfred reminded her gently as if this was the simple course of action that would keep everyone alive.
“Really, you’ll be the recipient of many wreathes.” Uhtred laughed, a small joke of the many crowns that would soon be his if he was able to get their compliance. To surrender their rule in favor of one singular King.
“My intention, friend.” Laughed Alfred as he waved away the woman that would soon be under his rule. Now was not the time but soon she would swear allegiance to him if she wanted her people to live. The glare given to him had to be erased and he would make it disappear with a few words. “Lagertha, do you know of Appian?”
“Huh?” Caught off-guard by his question as she struggled under her confinement.
“A man of great qualities, truly. Perhaps it was the virtues of prudence, proficiency, patience and hard labor but it was more than that. Beyond each, each of the conquered’s ability for cultural superiority, political matureness, and economical abilities… it was the fact that the integration of all defined and stabilized their Empire. I want that, do you understand?” Alfred spoke with such vigor that she could only watch him without words leaving her mouth. What he spoke of held an idealized future that couldn’t come to be but there was once such a place.
“Impossible.” Lagertha could only tremble as she found no other words to properly explain her feelings.
“You must aid me, you know you have to,” Alfred spoke the truth as he painted a place that held her people’s future within the safety of its grasp.
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