I do not like the concept of betrayal, but treachery is an integral part of medieval life because loyalties always shift from one side to another. Due to this, I am thinking of depicting a major betrayal in my second fantasy book that will threaten House Magnus’s hold on the kingdom of Umbran. This betrayal will cause a war within a war, which will be a complex situation I never explored before. This will also add to more complexity to the story.
It has become a common custom in storytelling that a leader of an army would give a speech to boost the morale of their army on the eve of battle. The most famous of these speeches in literature would be the St. Crispin’s Day Speech from Shakespeare’s Henry V. Henry V of England said this speech to arouse his army right before they defeated the French in the Battle of Agincourt. In the second volume of my fantasy series, I will be including a series of speeches before major battles throughout the story. I don’t think I could ever top the St. Crispin’s Day Speech, but I will do my best.
One of the most unpredictable and dangerous aspects of warfare is the use of guerrilla warfare. Guerrilla warfare is when a smaller and more mobile force can defeat a larger army through sabotage, ambushes, and hit-and-run tactics. In my medieval research, I learned that the Welsh were prolific users of guerrilla warfare and were able to keep the English at bay until they were conquered by Edward I AKA Longshanks. Then in the Welsh Revolt that lasted from 1400 to 1415, the Welsh made good usage of guerrilla warfare before engaging the English in open warfare. In my second fantasy book, I will be featuring a rather frightening form of guerrilla warfare. With all of their fighting men gone off to war, a kingdom will be invaded by an Imperial army, who will receive fierce resistance from the locals. The guerrilla forces will only consist of old people, women, and children. The elders will serve as strategists and tacticians, the women will serve as shield maidens who are just as skilled in combat as their men, and the children will serve as assassins and saboteurs who slit enemy throats in their sleep and set fires to enemy camps. The locals will even burn their own farms and villages in order to reduce the number of resources the invaders could pillage, which will starve them out. Overall, even though their fighting men are gone, these locals are NOT to be underestimated!
I discovered in my medieval research that there was a surprising ingredient in several everyday items and tasks: URINE! When dying fabrics different colors, tailors would use stale urine from a man. In fact, throughout the 1300s London had buckets in street corners where men would “donate” their urine so that it would collected by dye workers. The reason the use urine to dye fabric is because the ammonia in the urine would make the dye change color. They also used urine while making soaps because the ammonia in the urine acts like a natural bleach. In Tudor kitchens, cooks would use child’s urine to change the color of gelatine molds. It may sound disgusting at first, but this was the norm of Tudor cooking because they valued the presentation and appearance of food rather than the taste and texture. Even if the food did not taste good, it had to look good as though it were part of an art gallery.
Today, I got to handle actual blades at a blade shop in my local mall in order to get more inspiration of how to handle such weapons. For example, I got to touch a Damascus steel knife with an antler handle. The handle was smooth yet had notable ridges while the Damascus steel itself also had a dense network of small ridges due to its multiple layers of steel, which was similar to snake skin. I also got to handle three hand-and-a-half longswords from fantasy films and shows: Jon Snow’s sword Longclaw, Aragorn’s sword Anduril Flame of the West, and Gandalf’s sword Glamdring the Foe Hammer. All of these swords could be held in one hand when one has the proper upper body strength, but you have much more control when they are held with two hands. Some of these swords had oval-shaped handles, which gave a secure grip while some were more rounded, which made it hard to index the edge of the blade. Then things got even better! I got to handle a Japanese katana, which made me feel like I was in an anime! The katana I held had a manta ray skin handle with a brass tsuba (crossguard) while its blade had a fuller running along its spine and a hamon line that ran down the length of the blade, which gave it a distinct yet beautiful design. Compared to the European longswords, the katana’s hilt had a much more secure grip and the overall weapon was much lighter. Also, the store owners were trained martial artists and swordsmen who gave me much needed insight on what kind of fighting styles and techniques were required to use these blades. Overall, this was a productive session that gave me more inspiration for future writing in my fantasy series.
Because I love my pit bulls more than life itself, I decided to include them in my fantasy series. When I updated Numen the Slayer, I made them minor supporting characters that pretty much always accompany the kennelmaster’s daughter Lucille (who I named after one of my deceased German Shepherds). While normally raised and trained as hunting dogs, these hounds also assist the main characters in combat situations. I thought it would be fitting to put my pit bulls in the story because dogs were commonly seen in medieval times. The type of medieval hunting dog that resembled my pit bulls the most was the mastiff, which makes sense since all three of my pit bulls have mastiff in them. Mastiffs were specifically bred to hunt wild boar and their purpose was to hold the pig by either the ears or the back of the neck and hold it down while the hunter finishes it off.
Like any sport, jousting does have the risk of injuring the players. Unlike most sports, jousting has no defense because you are going to get hit and there is nothing you can do to stop it. As a result of this, injuries were quite common back in the day. For example, Henry VIII had at least two known jousting accidents. In the first accident, he forgot to lower his visor and he was struck in the head, which gave him a concussion. In the second accident, his horse collapsed on top of his leg, which crushed it and left him in a constant state of debilitating pain for the rest of his life. Another example of a jousting accident was when King Henry II of France was killed in the very tournament he was hosting. In the epic tournament in my second fantasy book, I am thinking of keeping it authentic and include some jousting accidents.