If Ethel doesn’t become a knight then when Ethan passes away the land will be returned to the original lord. While Ethel can still inherit the use of the land, he will be only leasing it and have to pay the same taxes as peasants, a full 80% rather than 40%. This means he can no longer afford to pay other people to work the land for him, and will either have to sell the lease, or become a farmer. Both mean the end of their nobility.
That was when Ethel told his father of his plan. Lords are known to have many parties and tournaments over the year, to alleviate their boredom. The tournaments vary depending on the size and the nature of the house that holds them but they will almost always have 3 main events and scatter a number of smaller contests in between them. The 3 main events are the joust, sword fighting, and archery.
The joust is exclusive to nobles, only knights and higher allowed to compete. The sword and archery, however are open to all, noble or peasant. The point of the second 2 are to encourage the training of these skills in their men and to attract talented warriors. The sword fighting however has an interesting unspoken rule. Whenever the houses have a big tournament, once a year to several depending on how large the house. If the winner of the melee is a knight, they will be invited to participate at the feasts head table, a great honour and a chance to make connections with the lord and their family, however if it is a commoner, then they will be awarded a knighthood and given a plot of land.
It sounds incredibly generous but is actually a very good deal for the lords. See, while they are given a plot of land and the prize money for winning, the land is almost always either barren, deserted or in an isolated area. If the knight goes to his new land and cultivates it with his reward money, then they will be receiving additional taxes from land that originally gave them nothing. The money given is usually only enough to buy some tools and hire a few temporary labourers, while the skilled swordsmen will provide the protection necessary himself. A 3rd of the time the knights fail, going into debt and having to sell back the land to the lord for coppers. Another 3rd the knights don’t even attempt to cultivate the land, instead they use the money to properly outfit themselves as knights and instead work for the lords as a part of their retinue, their land handed off to either their relatives to use, or left till one of their successors who have ample funds cultivate it themselves. And the final group successfully turn the land into a settlement that attract new settlers, becoming the beginning of a village that further fills the lord’s pocket. The lords get some skilled fighter, more taxes and expand their territory. Of course, there are exceptions, the title is never given to known criminals and almost never to foreigner’s, for the sake of not losing face with the other lords.
Ethel won’t have any of these problems, he will probably try to sell the land to whoever is the highest bidder and then just inherit his father’s land which is already a profitable farm. I on the other hand am interested in the new legal benefits the title will give me. My previous plan was to become a successful sell-sword so as to provide protection to my family. However, if I become a knight then that becomes much quicker and easier.
I don’t particularly need the land either, but it would be nice to leave it to my children or family. While the knighthood would allow me to travel anywhere in Westeros and I would have to bow to no-one except my liege lord or the king. My family will also get the backing of a skilled knight wherever they go.
Since then I have been training with the Roc family in swordsmanship. It took me quite some time to get the basics, and Ethel is still better than me, however I have several advantages over him.
The first is that I have finally broken through to 1st tier warrior and have achieved some relief in knowing I am no longer as weak and vulnerable as before. 1st tier is when qi is able to fill my entire body, and able to control its movement. Like this I can concentrate my qi in the extremities of my body. I can now muster enough force over my entire
Second is that while my experience from my past life may have not have include sword skills, I have a lot of experience dodging swords and fighting alongside swordsmen, so I am used to their tricks and patterns. Also, I have recently carved my own hunting bow and relearnt my previous skill. With it when we go for tourneys, I will be able to win the archery competition with ease, impressing lords and earning coin.
Finally, I was 4 years younger than Ethel, I will probably participate when I am 16, so I have plenty of time to grow and train.
The planning that Ethel was talking about was our discussions on the lords of the Noth and which we would like to serve under. The smaller lords would eb easier to impress as the tournaments have less competition, however they also have less tournaments and there is less honour and security with them. While the large lords will be competed for by everyone in and even some from outside the North.
I am of the opinion that since we are still young it would be prudent to challenge a number of tournaments to gain experience and then when we are confident we have a chance, participate in the larger Lords tournaments. Not only do the larger lords have larger armies so greater security but they are the victims of less conflicts, so we are likely to have to have better prospects. Ethel was more into being knighted by the smaller lords as he would get a higher status with them and be able to be knighted faster.
As we were debating the pros and cons of each lord, lunch came and Ethan announced that he planned to bring us to BushBurn for the winter market. When we asked why he told us it was to participate in the fights.
“What?! But dad, the fights there aren’t tourneys, they’re just a bunch of drunk sell-swords looking to earn a bit of extra coin” Ethel immediately was against the idea. I had to say I was agreement with Ethel. The BushBurn fights was at the end of the market organised by the local margrave where usually about a dozen fighters would each give 100 coppers to a pot and the winner would win the combined sum. It lasted about 2-3 hours, small crowd standing around and the total prize is less than I could earn just by selling items at the market.
“Quite boy, you will go! It would do you good to fight people other than the 2 of us and while the matches might be small time, they use similar rules and scoring to the proper ones. Ben, I can’t make you go, but I think you should for the same reasons as Ethel.” Ethan snapped at his son before calmly addressing me.
After considering his points, I thought it would be good experience and I was planning to visit Marg after the Market anyway, so I may as well to it sooner. Although I'll miss the best time to sell my gear, I have already saved a substantial 8.35 stags over the years and can still sell them to locals for a lower price. Our practice fights have been getting dull. After a year we have seen just about all of each-others tricks and patterns, if we keep it up we will fall into bad habits when we face others, expecting them to fight like we are used to, and when they don’t, getting surprised.
As the weeks went on like that, continuing to train with my sword and bow skills the market came around and we set off, planning to stay in the town at the inn over the next 3 days and leave the morning after the fights.