Extraordinary. My new King hath asked me the tale of how it all began. But where is the beginning? My beginning? John's beginning? Or the beginning of my true father, the eldest of three noble heirs, Coeur de Lion? Is that the start you seek young Henry?
He honors me with his question, and I'm beholden to answer, yet what thinks he of The Bastard of Faulconbridge? He honors me because his father did. Because his grandam did. He honors me, for in me he sees a hero of war, and he honors me as the son of a greater man than his father was. By my life, long live the king.
But in this little King lies there honor?
Is it fair play that seeks to understand the landless Bastard that takes a knee at his throne and calls him cousin? Is it honor? Or perhaps possession of my loyalty which he seeks to use. Is even one as young as he already mastered by that master of all?
Hold fast dear Henry, I will tell you the tale and you shall make of it what you will.
Coeur de Lion! Coeur de Lion! They say as they compare me to my father like I'd been in their court from birth. But my face is new to thee, is it not cousin? How does it sit, his face on mine? There is a vein of likeness there I think, though I did not know my own noble sire.
The Bastard of Faulconbridge I am, my King. And my brother is the master of that estate now. It was not without bitterness that I passed that title to him, he who was second born, to take my chance and follow your father. It was an old quarrel between he and I that brought us before the King. It was a game we played, a youthful game but deadly serious no less. Now I am shut of it.
What need for land have I when I've the love of kings?
My mother still loves me well, but my brother loves me not. The scrapes and scraps of youth linger on between us. Though he has won our argument finally, in the possession of his father's face, yet he feels as if he has lost. What think you?
I think a man bent on possession is no happier in possessing as he seeks the next thing. He would rather have won it by my death than gained it by my grace. I have made an enemy of he that should be my friend for I have gained what he cannot and the sight of me tweaks his nose. Our argument continues then as he seeks to possess the thing that is only my right to have.
My ascent into your sphere, cousin, is but my right, is it no?. By my father's face it is.
They see him in me, although they saw him not before. If my brother knew the favor he did me, the honor he did me when he gave me to John for my future, would he have done so? I think yes, for he is a man like any of his peers, like any of the realm. Ah but I've had one on him have I not my Lord?
We take advantage where we may, we men under the eye of Kings. I took my chance and served your father well as I could for being bastard born and a stranger to these games. I will serve you well, but not all will listen to a bastard son. I have no trade and no stock to trade, I have but my name and my face, and thy love which I return with the interest of loyalty.
My power political is a poor thing, bastard born without the courtly ways of your lords and ladies. They love me not, yet their respect I have for my sword arm is strong, made for decisive stroke. I am an extension of the King's blood, which is to say his will. In that I am pure and they will bend their necks to that. They will bend not to the sound of my name, but of yours.
I do not know politics, but I do know war. Whether you will act or not, your strength lies there. It is the weight to your words, the kind of honor that is well understood by all.
In war, men do fall, but solutions can be found through strength of arms. Possession may be taken, and right may be assured. War is honest and honorable. War is laid bare. A man can find honor there
War is a tool to be used, and I am your sword, good King.
At your need, at your call, I am yours.
By right, by possession, and by nobility thou must hold if thou art to hold the crown, young majesty, for in missing one you may lose all as did your father.
John pursued only possession while he claimed right, and yet he gave away part of which he possessed in hope to keep some. Offense! Offense! He should have kept all! Was England not his? I think it was and yet bits and parts drifted through his fingers as he clutched at them.
Be decisive, my Lord. Be honorable. Keep hold of what you have and do not change with the fair wind. And fair. Be fair to your friends, those who give you their loyalty. Loyalty is possessed surely as land and it can be lost to commodity's cause. Hold the love that is given you, do not wound it, and you shall hold England whole.
I see the deceased Arthur in you, or who your cousin was like to be. I see his father and mine and I see your own. I see England. It is to her that my loyalty and yours should lie. It is to her that we pledge our fealty and our love.
Dear King, you will find bastards in all the lands, and though I have no claim I may lay claim to Mother England. Coeur de Lion was her son surely as I was his, and so my fealty lies with her that was my mother.
Your name is England and yet England you are not, but that you hold it fast and true. Seek to love her, to woo her. Keep her safe and she will keep thee safe. She's thy companion and thy adviser better than any lord, any priest, or aye any bastard blood.
Be her husband and be her son, good King, and she is yours as she is mine.