This chapter has been retired.

The year is 1067. After the defeat of King Harold II at the Battle of Hastings, the Anglo-​​Saxon nobility is all but extinct. The few that remain are living quietly and anonymously. But one young lord has refused to accept William as king and has gone wandering, traveling farther and farther from the court into the wild country. 

In the spring, looking down from the hills, he sees a rich and yet barren valley, with ruined huts and an ancient church, as well as the remains of old fortifications. Farmers from the hill country tell him that this is the land of Lothere, a land under a curse. A century ago or more, a sudden plague eliminated the entire population in a matter of weeks. No one knows if the malady lingers, because no one dares enter the valley – some nights odd lights can be seen flickering in the church: proof, they say, that the curse remains even if the air is no longer diseased.

Lord Sigefrith Hwala, unable to imagine that anything worse than his present life could be waiting below, decides to take his chances and start a new life here. He rides boldly down through the foothills and into the court of the old fort. When the ringing echoes of his horse’s hooves have died down, he cries out, “I am King Sigefrith of Lothere! Who challenges my right to rule?” There is, of course, no answer.

Sigefrith rides back to the hamlet in the hills and announces that any who hate William the King more than they fear the curse are welcome to enter his kingdom. A few brave young couples who could never afford a farm of their own take up his offer of free land. Sigefrith also sends word to a few of his friends from the war: the younger sons of a fallen nobility, they have no chance of living the life to which they are accustomed unless they follow Sigefrith to a new kingdom.

And so they will all start over. A foolhardy young lord turned king, the third son of a baron become an Earl, a knight promoted to Duke, and a handful of farmers and peasants will make the valley live again, braving the curse of Lothere and the wrath of King William.