NATION

PASSWORD

Stories of Anterra (Closed, Anterra)

A staging-point for declarations of war and other major diplomatic events. [In character]
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Asharestan
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Founded: Feb 05, 2017
Ex-Nation

Stories of Anterra (Closed, Anterra)

Postby Asharestan » Wed Jul 04, 2018 3:15 pm

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Part of The Story of Us: the award winning literary and cinematic project bringing history and stories from across Anterra to life.

Kaylin Raines, Daniela Pradeep, Brendan Mitsui, Rafaela Veracruz
in association with
The University of Stenden, the Tiperyn Academy of Arts & Literature, and the Tiberian Royal Endowment for the Humanities



Project Untold have outdone themselves once again. If you're a long time fan of the series like me, you're going to love the new stories and rediscover the old ones. With hundreds of new footnotes, photographs, and illustrations, getting lost in worlds familiar and strange becomes too damn easy.
— Adelheid Van Den Berg, Ambrosia Times

Stories of Anterra masterfully draws together tales from across time, illuminating the past and present lives of ordinary and extraordinary men and women. Whether you are being moved to tears by the struggles and joys of a poor fisherman in Sindhustan, or thrilled with the exploits of Artemian revolutionaries, Stories of Anterra speaks to our shared sense of humanity and reminds of us of the beauty in our own lives
— Omar Siddiqui, Professor of Anthropology, New Castle University




To all of the volunteers, assistants, translators, researchers, and editors who have made Project Untold truly come to life — thank you.

Published in the Holy Tiperyn Realm by Waasennar Publishing 2018

Copyright© 2018 by Project Untold. All rights reserved

CONTENTS
  • Prologue
  • Chapter I: The White Bear
Last edited by Asharestan on Fri Feb 22, 2019 8:40 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Asharistan is what would happen if Pahlavi Iran had a love child with Lebanon, Syria, Israel, and the Holy Roman Empire. Interested? Find out more here!

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Asharestan
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Founded: Feb 05, 2017
Ex-Nation

Postby Asharestan » Wed Jul 04, 2018 3:16 pm

Prologue

To be written ...
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Gardic State
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Founded: Nov 02, 2018
Ex-Nation

Postby Gardic State » Fri Feb 01, 2019 8:36 pm

Jóhann did not usually walk down to the pier after school, there was usually nothing to see there but schooners full of Herring. Not that he had the time for it anyway. He mostly helped his dad around in his Workshop after school. He may be the first member of the Möller family to go to school, and he may become the first Möller in generations to become something other than a ropemaker, but until after his graduation next summer as an accountant, he was still needed at the shop.

His father had given him permission to go down to the pier because today was not just any day.
Today was when Friðþjófur Bergdal, the great polar explorer, would start his journey to the North Pole.

This was a journey many had attempted, but no one had finished. There was quite a bit of tension in the air as the papers were reporting that pioneers from several other countries were planning to be the first to make it to the North Pole. The race was on.

Friðþjófur was an impressive candidate for the first polar visitor. He had been on several expeditions, including an ocean voyage around the pole along the northern coast of Artemia. Islands had been named after him. He also had the full financial backing of the Presider himself who had spared no expense to prepare him for the journey. He had a very good chance of becoming the first visitor to the pole, bringing prestige to the whole of Gardarike on the global stage.

The view over the harbour was quite good from the steps of his school. The street went straight down the hill and ended at the harbour about a mile away, the buildings on each side of the street were quite short and it was easy to look over the buildings further down the road. Beyond the harbour was the long and narrow Bay of Bolungar, from which his hometown of Bolungarvík was named. Beyond the harbour was the blue horizon of the sea, and beyond the blue horizon of the sea was the prize that Friðþjófur and so many others were competing for.

A short while later Jóhann arrived at the pier. He had wondered why the street from his school had been emptier than usual but his question was answered as he found that the pier was full of people. He had never seen so many people at the pier before, and though he had recently stopped growing and was reasonably tall, he was not tall enough to get a good look at the podium where Friðþjófur would deliver his speech. All he could see over the crowd were the large masts of his ship: Snæbjörninn. The White Bear.

Jóhann looked around to see if he could find a better vantage point, perhaps something to stand on. Fortunately he did not have to look for long before he saw a couple of guys his age standing on top of a horse carriage waving for him to come over.

“Come up here, you can see everything. It’s okay it’s my dad’s carriage.” Said one of the guys. He was wearing a flatcap and smelled like a stable.
“I’m Geir, this is my little brother Hannes.” He said, pointing to a pockmarked kid with friendly eyes maybe two years younger than him

“Thanks. My name is Jóhann. So what’s going on?.”

“I’m afraid you just missed the Presider’s speech, he just stood down from the podium. You can see him standing behind Friðþjófur, he’s about to to make his speech now.”

Jóhann was disappointed. He had been looking forward to hearing the Presider speak. At least he could say he had seen him with his bare eyes. He had seen him many times before on coins and pictures but never in person. But there he was, rather older than in his pictures but he stood straight and looked dignified and full of vigour.

The crowd got quiet as Captain Friðþjófur walked to the podium and began his speech.

“People of Bolungarvík, people of Hólmgarður and people of Steinfoss. My fellow compatriots and fellow human beings across the world. Your Excellency.

Thank you. Thank you for enabling this journey. Thank you for your competitive spirit, your moral and financial support, your trust, but above all: your desire to expand your horizons in every sense of the word. Without your belief in this journey I would not be standing here today at this wonderful occasion.

Behind me is Snæbjörninn. He will be our vessel for this journey. Our shelter from the frigid temperatures of the Polar region. Our plow for the sea ice we will inevitably encounter on our voyage. And he will be our home over the next few years. For this challenging journey nothing has been spared in terms of design, materials and provisions. Aboard we have enough preserved food to last us several years. We have an oil fired stove for when desperate heating is needed. We have all the most modern nautical instruments so we may never lose our bearing. We even have some dynamite aboard in case we need to blast our way through some icebergs!

Nothing has been spared, we only have the best equipment because only the best is enough for the best crew I could possibly have asked for. We…”

The captain was rudely interrupted by a commotion behind him. A couple of crew members frantically ran towards him on the deck of the ship from the stern, waving and shouting something Jóhann couldn’t quite hear. What he did hear was the audible gasping of the crowd as smoke started billowing quickly out of portholes at the stern of the ship. Jóhann himself couldn’t help but quietly uttering profanity at the sight.

The moment captain Friðþjófur turned his head to look at what was going on, a very loud explosion echoed off the buildings along the harbour. Wooden splinters and water droplets rained over the crowd, which in turn panicked and ran away from the pier. A massive plume of smoke rose from the stern of the ship.

Jóhann, Geir, Hannes, Captain Friðþjófur, even the Presider himself stood dumbfounded at the rising smoke cloud. In stark contrast to most of the crowd which had dispersed in all directions from the Snæbjörninn.

The few who still stood on the pier, somehow having managed to avoid being stampeded by the running crowd. Could hear wooden groaning sounds emanating from the Snæbjörninn. The few crewmembers who were still on the ship quickly jumped from the ship onto the pier. The ship was now rapidly listing to its starboard side.

Seagulls swept in to get themselves a full beak of soaked hardtack, now floating in the water. An undoubtedly appreciated novelty for them in a town where all they could eat was herring.

Captain Friðþjófur and the Presider were still standing on the podium. The
Look on the captain’s face was one of horror. The Presider did his best to remain stoic as was expected of the leader of the nation, but he still couldn’t hide a nevertheless admirably suppressed look of disappointment.
The Presider’s palace guards, caught off guard themselves, finally ran up to the podium and dragged him away to someplace safe.
Captain Friðþjófur simply stood and stared hopelessly at his ticket to greatness disappear into the green water of the harbour. All that remained visible of the the ship were the masts, which stuck out of the water at an odd angle. The water was bubbling from air leaking out of the ship, almost as if it was taunting the captain.

Though Johann had expected something completely different when he went down to the pier that afternoon, he still felt like he had witnessed a historical moment.

His two new acquaintances gave him a ride home on the horse carriage. Before he went home he stuck around to look at the aftermath and despite the carnage at the harbour no one was actually killed in the explosion, though the crewman who lit his pipe right next to the dynamite didn’t look like he would survive the wrath of his colleagues. Jóhann walked into his father’s workshop, with the events of the day still on his mind.

“So son, how did it go?”

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Boaga
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Founded: Jun 08, 2014
Civil Rights Lovefest

Postby Boaga » Mon Jun 15, 2020 7:40 pm

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“It isn't a matter of forgetting. What one has to learn is how to remember and yet be free of the past.” ― Aldous Huxley, Island



Part I: “The Island”
The Port of Loiola
The Island of Erlantzga, Boaga

The decaying port town beckoned the man into its languid embrace. The nature of his work compelled him thus so. The deep, rumbling sea called out to him, though the endless waters were not what drew him there to begin with. As old as time it seemed, the sea was still steeped in magnificence, though unfortunately the same could not be said of the island that rose from the surface.

The island was named Erlantzga, a small subdivision off the coast of the large Urrunaga province in the southern part of the nation of Boaga. Boaga was already a provincial country, Urrunaga more so, and Erlantzga even more remote than that. It might have been the most cursed island in the world, if the locals were to be believed. Perhaps it had seen better days, but that would imply that Erlantzga had seen anything that wasn’t bleak.

In bygone days of yore, the island served many unusual roles, ranging from a pirate den to a getaway sanctuary for the monarchy during times of plague, to a lookout over the western seas and as a destination for fringe groups. Throughout its history however it was an important whaling and fishing hub, and much of the local culture was built up around those maritime professions. The local populace took great pride in those traditions, often running through families going back centuries. In fact, some of the tallest tales and richest stories were the ones that were told in Erlantzga.

The island was a focal point of Boagan superstitions as well. Many locals regarded it as sacred, hallowed ground of the Old Gods, who lurked beneath the depths of the sea and deep within the heart of the island. Some even said that the island itself was an Old God, slumbering since time immemorial until such a time came that he might be stirred. Though such legends were often the subject of great debate, none disputed that the island was unusual. Strange noises could often be heard from the heart of the island where the forests were old and thick, and where mythical creatures were said to stalk the mists.

With a steady gait, the man walked along the cracked and potholed-ridden paved path towards his ultimate destination. The man was tall and thin, wearing a long brown shearling coat, with black slacks and shoes emerging from underneath. His hair was a short dark brown color, and his eyes a foggy grey. Though largely clean-shaven, there was the hint of five-o-clock shadow on his face, especially around his straight, tight-lipped mouth.

He had been on the island for little over a week now, pursuing a lead in his field of work. It wasn’t a good place to be for an extended period of time if one could avoid it. The radiance of the dawn’s light had only barely penetrated the thick clouds above and the ominous fog below, casting a dull, eerie glow in the narrow streets of the port town. As a result, hoods of black shadow swelled faintly against the sides of fissured stone buildings and decaying wooden facades.

Coils of vaporous mist enwrapped the weathered street lamps and the gnarled leafless trees lining the streets. They writhed around them like a magician’s trick-smoke, mysterious and illusory. Sieves of misty waves caressed the lichen-encrusted sea stacks beyond, undaunted by eternal persistence of the sea to bring them down to the depths. All the same, the waves crashed with deadly intent. It amplified sound as it pounded the docks, filling all the empty spaces along the coast. A distant, yet reverberating noise filled the air all around him, subtle in the distance. In these wee hours of the morn, none stirred, the windows of the quaint harbor homes shuttered. Only the sound of the sea, like the constant tones of a great, ominous beast, entombed the island.

Slowly the light emerged to vanquish the looming mists. Like the luminal glow of the gods, it chased the shadows, but the gloom remained, and where the mist once stalked, now there were colors of rustic brown and grey. The sounds of dock workers split the silence just as the town became illuminated in dull light. A fusillade of whistles and shouting bellowed all around him as figures came into view off in the distance, laboring on the docks. The man noticed this, and walked into a narrow alley off of the street.

The poverty of the port town was revealed in the scarce light poking into the alleys. Worn brick exteriors stood tenuously, lined with rusty rail stairs and ladders, clotheslines reaching between them over the alley. The ground looked like burnt toast and a layer of grime clasped its crusty exterior. The first blush of the morn gave the filthy pavement an almost walnut brown complexion.

Idling past the occasional flowerpot sitting upon windowsills and back decks. He caressed them softly, getting tingles in his otherwise steady fingers. His ears perked up at the sounds of people shuffling about behind open windows, no doubt feeling the brisk mourning air. It flashed with a tinsel tint through the lace of garb hanging from the clotheslines by clips and pins. When the alley parted he could see, in the heart of a small plaza, a pool with a fountain rising from it. Even from there, he could see the pool’s water, an almost lime-color, with skeins of swirl-grey twisting slowly on the surface. An old, dull spillway led to the choppy pond below. Large stones swarmed around the edge of the pool, buffed with pillows of moss. They caused a rocky gurgling as water met stone; a swish, a clunk, a swell and a clop. Pungent fragrances, sanguine and off-putting, seemed to flit in and out of his awareness. Sight and smell vied for attention in this soul-draining dream world.

The man put his back against an ivy covered wall near the edge of the alley, leaning his head briefly against the rough, uneven surface. He closed my eyes, and even if just for one fleeting moment, let his stream of consciousness take hold, and drifted into infinity. When he opened his eyes again, he couldn’t recall where his mind drifted, but surely it was to a better place than where he found himself.

I have been alone. This man is an island.
The cliffs of my shoulder blades
hang heavy with grief, ore, suffering.
I am draped with the permanence of gravity,
So do not believe that you cannot move.
Come to me, water babes fully grown,

Allow yourself to be swept in salt and ash.
Tumble with your brothers into my arms
and be at peace, at last, on the shore.
I too was once drowned, but I arose
and as the caps melt, all things will erode
For no man is an island alone.

The man turned into an adjacent alley on the right, where his destination awaited him at its end. Like the other houses it was connected, with no gaps between them. Most of them were two stories, either all the same house or a split level, the house in question being the former. It featured the main door, a window on each side of it, and then two more above. Like the others it was a worn brick and stone building with a flat roof, where a chimney peaked over the edge.

Approaching the front door, the man looked around to his left and right. There was nobody in the alley behind him, nor to his left or right. Looking ahead once more, he quietly and carefully approached the door and turned the knob, only to find it was locked. Reaching into his coat, he pulled out his lockpicking kit, and extracted the tools he needed to open the lock, which he did quickly, locking the door behind him as he entered the house.

The inside of the house was dark, though the man could see that it was sparsely decorated. There were a few old, ragged chairs arranged around a round coffee table and fireplace, as well as a small bookshelf with only a few books arranged upon it, mostly historical fiction. The small kitchen looked hardly used, and it too was bare of any abundance of food. Likewise, the bathroom was small and relatively clean.

Walking up the narrow flight of stairs, he found a bedroom with only a bed, nightstand and dresser in it, and another room that was empty aside from some baskets of clothes.

To his satisfaction, there was no one home, and so the man walked back downstairs and approached the light the hung from the ceiling. Gently, he pulled out a serrated knife and cut the cord before picking a chair to sit down in. Then he waited, looking at his surroundings in a little more detail. Above the fireplace, resting upon the mantle was a pole hook, which featured three large fish hooks fitted onto a long wooden pole to create a fishing implement, used for hauling in fish.

It was while the man was examining the pole hook that he could hear the door begin to open again. In stepped a middle-aged man of average height, with black hair and blue eyes wearing a coat, thick grey shirt and overalls with tall rubber boots. He shut the door behind him and went to turn on the light. When the light wouldn’t come on, he groaned, and entered the room, walking at a brisk pace towards the kitchen.

“Mr. Ochengaray,” the seated man called out gently. “I’ve been waiting for you.”

Mr. Ochengaray stopped, and turned around slowly. When he saw the seated man, he let out a long sigh. “Danel Uharte…it’s been a long time. You were much younger when I last saw you. There’s no need for this mister shit…you know my name is Benny.” Looking towards the kitchen, he added, “you want some tea, Danel? Maybe some biscuits.”

“…No,” the man known as Danel answered. “Mr. Ochengaray,” he continued, “You know who I am…do you know why I’m here?” Danel leaned back in his chair, and sat crossed legged with his hands resting on his leg. “Maybe you’d like to sit down? There’s much we need to talk about, so you may want to…for this.”

Benny hesitated, choosing instead to remain standing in the living room. “I know what you’ve been up to, Danel. What you’ve been doing the past four years. All those accidents…you caused those, didn’t you?” Benny laughed, and added that “you know, I never would have thought you’d be capable of all that. You were always timid. Never willing to make the tough decisions.”

Danel shifted in his chair and tapped his knee as he thought about what Benny said to him. “If you know what I’ve been up to then you know why I’m here. Mr. Ochengaray, His Majesty’s Government is aware of your participation in the Revolutionary Front, and I don’t have to explain to you why that’s a problem. I solve problems…that’s my job. I make them go away.”

“That’s what this is about isn’t it?” Benny laughed. “I get it…you’re just a glorified hitman for the royal bigwigs, aren’t you?” searching Danel’s eyes, Benny flashed a sad expression. “What did they do to you, Danel? You were the best of us. You’ve changed…Gods be good, you have changed…”

“Mr. Ochengaray,” Danel went on, unfazed. “By order of His Majesty’s Government, I ask you to come with me for questioning. Terrorism, Sedition and Treason are very serious charges. I have all the papers I need to do as I must, but I’d very much prefer this gets done quickly and easily. Look at it like this…depending on what you’re willing to share, whatever they try to stick you with might not be so bad. Hell, I’m sure that if you’re especially forthcoming, they would consider wiping the slate clean, and letting you get a fresh start. No more hiding in alley houses on the fringe of the kingdom, working on the docks. You could go back home…back to your family.”

“My family…” His voice trailing off, Benny seemed to think long and hard about that. “I’ve been away for too long. They probably think I’m dead, or at least that they’ve moved on. There’s no sense in beating around the bush with you, Danel. The Revolutionary Front is something that has given my life purpose. It’s goals are something I can leave to my children once realized. A better future for them. That’s worth the sacrifices I’ve made.”

At this, Danel cocked his head and furrowed his brow. “There’s no glory to be had in this life, Benny. It never ends well. It didn’t for the others, and it won’t for you. There’s only two ways you can proceed. One works out reasonably well for you, and the other doesn’t. You’re a smart man Benny, I know you realize the truth of what I’m saying.”

“What happened to all the rest?” Benny asked. “All those others that died…did they take you up on your offer? Did you kill them anyway? Those were good people, Danel. Those were your friends…your father’s friends. I know they didn’t truly die in fires, car accidents or hunting incidents. That would be too coincidental, now wouldn’t it? You see this isn’t about what’s smart and what’s not, this is about doing the right thing, even when doing the right thing won’t end well for you. That’s what your father believed, and that’s what I believe.”

My father… Danel for the first time felt acutely uncomfortable, before recomposing himself. “We can go on all day about right and wrong, Mr. Ochengaray. It’s a matter of perspective.”

Benny snorted with incredulity at that statement. “Is that what those corrupt, morally bankrupt royal sycophants told you? They’ve got your head so far up your ass that you can see the light.”

Danel sighed. “You know what happens to marked persons who resist, Mr. Ochengaray.” Exhaling deeply, Danel conceded, “you’re a good man, Benny. Yeah, I still know your name. Come with me peaceably, and this will go pleasantly for both of us. I’d like that… I really would.”

“I’m sure you would,” Benny countered angrily. “Problem is, if I talk, a lot more good people are going to get hunted down, threatened, and possibly killed. It’s been years, and you’re just now finding me. All this time I’ve been right under your nose, living a quiet life working at the docks. Killing me won’t make a difference, Danel. The revolution is coming, and it doesn’t matter how many people you murder. The more of us that die, the more people emerge to take our place. Would the monarchy kill everyone if it came down to that?”

Danel closed his eyes and shook his head. From his coat pocket he pulled out a silenced pistol, and laid it on his lap. “That’s none of my concern, or yours, for that matter. The King and his Government do as they shall. So shall I, Benny. It’s nothing personal…it’s business.”

“Your father would be ashamed of you” snorted Benny, his face flushed red. “What he lived for, what he stood for…what he died for. You’re just pissing on all of that now, aren’t you? All those wars, all that death. Look around you, Danel. The monarchy will be the ruin of this once proud nation. I’ve heard that the king is ill…do you think that his son and heir will be any different…any better? If you do you’re a fool. All you have to do is leave…walk right out that door, and I’ll forget that anything happened. We can save this country before it’s too far gone. You were once a Paragon, Danel…you can be that again.”

“…I don’t have time for this, Benny.” Danel let his hand rest atop his pistol. “I need you to make a choice. We all have choices to make. I made mine long ago. It’s your turn now. What’s it going to be?”

“…I already have.” In a swift motion, Benny dove at Danel just as the latter gripped his pistol. Benny tackled Danel and pushed over the chair, causing both of them to come crashing to the floor. Benny was a large man, but Danel was stronger, grappling with Benny in order to get a clear shot, but to no avail. The gun was knocked away from Danel’s hand as Benny began punching Danel in the face.

Danel gave Benny a ferocious headbutt before scrambling across the floor to pick up his gun. Benny meanwhile stood up and took the pole hook off the wall above the fireplace and swung it down at Danel, in an attempt to bury it in the man’s back. Noticing this out of the corner of his eye, Danel rolled to the side, causing the pole hook to drive into the wooden floor.

With a savage kick to the belly, Benny staggered backwards as he crunched over in pain, while Danel crawled forward and reached out for his gun. Taking it in his hand, he rolled over only to find Benny standing over him again with the pole hook about to come crashing down on Danel’s head. As the pole hook was coming down, Danel aimed and fired one silenced shot.

The pole hook went flying out of Benny’s hand as the bullet struck it, and Benny once again fell down on Danel, grabbing his wrist and squeezing it so tight that the pistol escaped Danel’s grasp, and choking him with his other hand. Big mistake. With his one free hand, Danel reached for the serrated knife in his coat pocket and pulled it out. Just as this was happening, Benny reached for Danel’s gun.

With a grunt, Danel kneed Benny in the groin and had an opportunity to flip him on his back, which he did. Benny had the gun in his hand ready to bring up and shoot Danel, but before he could do that, Danel slid his knife into Benny’s chest. Not wanting Benny to make too much noise, Danel put his hand over his mouth, and then he waited. Before long, Benny was dead, bleeding out on the floor.

Damnit. Wiping his knife off on Benny’s coat, Danel put away his gun and surveyed the living room. Carefully, he put everything back to where it was before the scuffle, and dragged Benny’s body into the kitchen. Once there, Danel began maneuvering around some of the appliances. Once he found the gas line, he cut it, and then he turned the stove on.

Danel already knew what the story was going to be. Mr. Ochengaray left for work late last night not knowing there was a gas leak in his house. When he returned home from his shift the following morning, he went to the kitchen and turned on the stove in order to cook breakfast. By this time his house had been filled with gas, and the lit stove ignited it, causing an explosion that killed Mr. Ochengaray.

Once he was finished arranging the scene to his satisfaction, Danel went back out the door and locked it behind him. Back out in the alley, he looked around before settling on walking in the direction of the dirty pool and fountain. The street there had a few cars parked along the curb, and a few people were out and about, though none paid him any mind. Danel began walking down the length of the street, letting his mind wander as he went.

Glitter of a blade,
Piercing of a scream,
Splatter of red blood
As it runs into a stream.

Footsteps in the darkness,
Heavy breath from behind,
Rush away to escape,
As was first designed.

Ignore the plaguing nightmares
Ignore the taunting voice
Ignore the niggling doubts
That you didn't make the right choice.

Though death do you face,
Do not ever turn aside,
'Tis as destiny has planned,
That the hells may you reside.

Several blocks down the street was a quaint bed and breakfast establishment called the Seafarer’s Sojourn, if the sign swinging from the post above the door was to be believed. Danel’s eyes seldom strayed from the establishment as he made his way to it. The building was old, no doubt, a two-story wooden building in the heart of old town Loiola. On sure feet, Danel approached the wooden door and opened it.

The interior was as quaint as the exterior, and smelled of cooking food. There was a bar and more than a dozen round tables and half as many booths inside, as well as men and women’s bathrooms and an old jukebox that looked like it had been there since the seventies. The only other person there besides the servers was an older man reading a newspaper at one of the tables.

Danel picked a booth and sat down, taking a menu from the rack against the wall not long thereafter. “A little young to be coming in this early for breakfast eh?” the old man said with a smirk, poking above his paper to see Danel.

“I’m a morning person,” Danel answered before turning back to the menu.

“Is that right? Well then, you’ve come to the right place,” laughed the old man. “My name is Jacobo…I’m a regular here. Never seen you here before…must be new around town.”

“…Yeah, you could say that.” Before long the server came to take Danel’s order. “Salted ham and marmitako please, with cider.” Then the server was off. “I don’t suppose you’d have seen me before.”

Jacobo laughed. “Well there are over…twenty million people in Boaga. Can’t know em all. I suppose I know the people worth knowing though. I knew the old king from our time in the Royal Navy. He was a hard man. He was nice, but stern, that one. We were in the war, saw the worst of it. You know how the old saying goes, ‘old men declare war and young men die in war.’” Casting a piercing gaze at Danel, Jacobo asked him “have you ever been in a war, son?”

“…Life is war, old timer,” Danel answered. “It’s a war that doesn’t end, and you always lose. Yet we fight it all the same, for one reason or another. Some for duty, some for love, some for enjoyment…others because it’s all they know how to do.”

“Well said,” nodded Jacobo as his food arrived. It consisted of scrambled eggs, grapefruit, bacon and juice. “My war is going to be coming to an end soon. I’ve lived long and well, and seen a great many things. There’s not much else for me to see that I haven’t already. This country has run out of surprises too…in my day it was so full of promise, but now? I pity you, son.”

Danel gave him a puzzled look. “Never doubt what this country is capable of. His Majesty’s Government has a plan to keep things on the up and up.”

The old man laughed again, and countered “look around you and tell me if things are on the up and up! The world is a big place, certainly a lot bigger than Boaga! I’ve seen a lot of it over the years. It amazes me just how big it is…and just how small we are. You’ll realize that once you’ve traveled the world.

Who says I haven’t already? Danel witnessed some fire trucks sounding their sirens as they went rolling down the street from around the corner, and then his food arrived. The salted ham was crisp and steaming, while the marmitako was hot and fresh, consisting of fish stew, potatoes, onions and tomatoes. He did not order a drink, opting instead to drink the water provided before breakfast. “I don’t think the world is as interesting as you make it out to be, old timer. Maybe it is at first and for a little while, but then it becomes very old hat.”

“Nothing’s more old hat than Boaga, son. There’s a reason why they refer to this land as a relic of bygone days,” Jacobo laughed for a few seconds until it turned into a cough. “I’m from right here in on Erlantzga, born and raised. Worked on the fishing boats. I don’t really mind it because that’s all I’ve ever known. As the saying goes, ‘be happy with what you have to be happy with.’ Those are words to live by.”

“And if you have nothing?” Danel asked as he cut into his salted ham. “What then?”

Jacobo grinned and began to chuckle at that. “Well I suppose that if you have nothing, and you can be happy with that, you’d be the happiest man in the world.”

“…That’s one way of looking at it.” Talking to this old sailor made Danel consider what Benny said earlier, ironically. Here was a man who loved the sea, spent his whole life working it, but now in the twilight of his days, realized that others might not be able to enjoy the same opportunities that he did in his youth. To spend all your life doing something, only to realize in the end that it may have been in vain surely would be a terrible feeling indeed…

Where had I heard this wind before
That scatters wreckage across the shore,
The ocean races wildly before its breath
And some poor sailor meets his death.

Upon the land angry waves do crash
Trees bend low and their branches lash,
Yellow streaks spear 'cross black skies
And salty tears sting sailors’ eyes.

Thunder roars and rumbles on high
Winter comes when the night is nigh,
Scours the land with rain and hail
While beside a fire an old man tells a tale.

Of ghosts that walk along the beach
Back through time bone fingers reach,
Pirates and Kings’ men replay old battles
As in its frame the window rattles.

Creaks and groans heard through the wind
Under wreckage poor souls are pinned,
No starlight nor moon that glows
As long as powerful tempest blows.

Where had I heard this wind before?
Twas when death knocked at my door.

While he was eating, Danel noticed a vibration in his pocket. My phone, he thought as he pulled it out to see what it had said. The message was most troubling indeed, and one that he certainly hadn’t expected. The old king had died at last, after battling an illness for the better part of the year. While that news in and of itself wasn’t beyond expectation, what followed was…unexpected to say the least.

The Crown Prince had moved swiftly upon receiving word of his father’s death in the night. He quickly assumed the reins of royal power apparently, and among other things, say fit to recall Danel to the royal court in Baratza. Danel hadn’t been in the capital in almost four years, having been in the field ever since he was last there, and if truth be told, he was in no hurry to return either. Too much politics…

“Something wrong?” asked Jacobo as he spooned his grapefruit. “The food’s so good here that you’d only stop eating if something’s wrong,” he laughed.

Danel just shook his head. “No…nothing’s wrong. Not yet anyway.” Quickly, Danel finished his food and left a generous sum of cash on the table, certainly enough to cover the cost of his meal and a tip. “It was nice talking to you old timer, but I should be going. I’ve got places to be.”

Jacobo had a twinkle in his eye. “Aw, such a shame, son, though I suppose we all got places to go, one way or the other. Just remember what they say about good old Erlantzga. You can leave the island, but the island never leaves you. Funny old thing my grandfather used to tell me, you see.” The old man waved his hand and continued, “bah, I shouldn’t keep you any longer. Go, and be well and safe in your travels. The world is a dangerous place.”

Yes it is. “Farewell, old timer.” Danel inclined his head, and turned to walk away, straight out the door. Deciding upon his course of action, he figured he’d take a boat to the island of Boaga, and then catch a plane in Urrutia to Baratza. There he would find out why the new king summoned him to court. Did he have some sort of plans for Danel? Probably, Danel thought as he walked along the street. Kings and Islands always do…
Last edited by Boaga on Mon Jun 15, 2020 7:43 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Boaga
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“Writing isn't about making money, getting famous, getting dates, getting laid, or making friends. In the end, it's about enriching the lives of those who will read your work, and enriching your own life, as well. It's about getting up, getting well, and getting over. Getting happy, okay? Getting happy.” ― Stephen King, On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft

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Ostboland
Political Columnist
 
Posts: 5
Founded: Jul 28, 2020
New York Times Democracy

Postby Ostboland » Tue Jul 28, 2020 7:41 pm

“Marionettes”
Rosendale Palace
Elleholm, Ostboland


Be it enacted by the King’s most Excellent Majesty and his Regent in Council, by the advice and consent of his present parliament assembled, and by the authority of the same do propose -

An Act to prohibit the keeping of animals solely or primarily for slaughter for the value of their furs, skins, feathers, or related purposes; to provide for the inspection and licensure of the carrying of said animals; to provide compensation for affected businesses; and other purposes.

Article 1

Section 1 - Criminal Offenses

Notwithstanding designation by the Department of the Interior for the express exemption for cultural purposes, it shall be illegal for any person to keep animals solely or primarily:
  1. for slaughter (whether by themselves or another) for the value of their fur, skins, feathers, or -
  2. for breeding progeny for such slaughter, or -
  3. for the entertainment and or amusement of other persons while being contained in inhuman conditions (as defined in Section 3).

A person is guilty of an offence if they knowingly . . .


Julia gnawed on the edge of her pen, again.

The technical details of these proposed laws were always the most complicated, and always made her nervous. Sure, it was a pure lack of understanding. Julia had not gone to a prestigious Artemian law school. In fact she was only twenty-seven, and had majored in Architecture: not exactly a wellspring of experience in these legal matters. Paragraphs referred to subsections of laws she had never heard of, or documents would refer to committees and ministries which she barely grasped. Of course Julia abandoned any attempt to comprehend the confusing accounting practices of budgets and finance bills. These documents were all words and numbers over mountains of pages. It was maddening, Julia was a visual learner. Give her a straight edge and pencil, and she could sketch the problem out. A nicely done graph or chart? A godsend! Paragraph 12, Subsection A, Line (514) of the legal code? It made her grit her teeth.

Yet someone had to do this work, and that someone - apparently - was her. Julia pined for the quiet life - away from the spotlight, and the public, and all the duties that came along too. She hoped for a happy life, maybe some experiences of her own . . . until that unfortunate day in the distant future. Sadly, all those wishes came to naught for this young woman far too soon. Not only was she in the limelight, Julia was constantly out of her depth, relying always on the advice of those around her. It was frustrating: she wanted to prove she could handle matters this important on her own, despite her own fears and inclinations.

This time, the subject was animal welfare. Julia paused and tapped her mouth with her pen, looking up at the stately ceiling. Alex. Alex would know something about this right? He was a biologist - off on an expedition in Northern Thuyiquakliq somewhere, studying rare species of fish right? Surely he knew a lot about the history of the fur trade and the treatment of exotic animals. If nothing else, Alex could dazzle her with his knowledge of several weird species and hostile environments. Hostile environments: that always made her laugh! But, contacting Alex was definitely out of the question. His expedition was out of cell phone range, and it was not as if Juila could take off for a week and fly up to Thuyiquakliq to see him. Oh yes, what would the papers say? They already gossiped negatively about the Princess’ boyfriend: “The Arctic Wanderer.”

Julia staring into the large picture she kept on her desk. It was of her and her father: he was carrying her in his arms, both smiling and laughing. It was a time that had long since passed. Maybe - maybe she should ask him? Her ‘Papa’ taught her a few tricks in dealing with ministers and government officials. He had a natural talent for surprising them with tough questions, a skill Juila copied with great success. True, Juila’s dad was also not a lawyer, but as King he mastered the detail of every state paper. Unfortunately, asking her Papa may not yield the answers she wanted. All Dr. Elberg could say was that: “His Majesty had his good days, and his bad days.” No one ever knew which day would be a strong, or weak day for her dad’s mental health, which is why Julia sat where she sat now. Her father was kept out in the country to maintain his physical and mental health. Julia let out a sigh.

“Papa,” she thought. “I could use your help.”

She looked down. She was biting the tip of her pen again.

She had to stop doing that.

As she scanned the document, Julia secretly wondered whether this proposed “Fur Farming Prohibition Act” would outlaw the country keeping her like this: a bird in a gilded cage. Oh sure, the palace itself was wonderful: Rosendale ticked every one of Juila’s architectural fancies. Her favorite professor, Dr. Chambers was a scholar of pre-Industrial architecture. They bonded over the forms of Rosendale Palace: its bright colored exterior, high ceilings, and small enclosed gardens. “A warm glow in the snow,” as he called it. Then of course, there were the extensions designed by Sven Asplund in 1744. His two additional wings added additional space and charm to the royal, urban residence at Elleholm, all while keeping with Rosendale’s original forms. No, the building wasn’t the problem. The problem was who had to occupy it.

Having wadded her way through the proposed piece of legislation the best she could, Juila did what she was supposed to do and simply signed: Riksföreståndare Juiliana.
To her knowledge, no one said she ever actually had to read the bills. But signing it was apparently a big deal (also something she had to do unless otherwise advised). So there you had it: Juila was for all practical purposes a glorified secretary. Emphasis on the glorified.

Juilia brought the cup of coffee to her lips and took a sip, glancing over to the box of papers on the desk: it would be a long day.

There was a knock at the door.

She rushed to make her thin, medium frame presentable. Julia quickly looked over to a mirror, examining her thin, medium frame and fair skin for any blemishes. With a few motions of her hands she parted her long, brown, curly hair.

“Enter,” she called out.

A familiar face appeared in the doors and greeted her with a bow. “Good morning your Royal Highness.” It was ‘her’ private secretary: Lucas Vassle.

“Ah good morning Lucas,” Juila smiled, scribbling some notes on another state paper. The consummate civil servant was an eldery man Julia did not choose, and for that reason she felt wary of him. But, he was someone whose organizational skills were superb, and he faithfully served her father.

Lucas strolled over to her side, file in hand: “One thing above all others on the agenda today ma’am, the state visit of your cousin, His Majesty the King of Boaga. The motorcade will be ready in exactly . . . one hour and ten minutes to take you, His Royal Highness Prince Mikael - your brother, and your mother Her Majesty the Queen Consort to meet the plane at the airport. Did you have a chance to review the revised schedule?”

Julia looked across on her desk, eyeing the familiar gold embossed border and lettering. She grabbed the Official State Schedule, looked over the itinerary again and mumbled. “. . . yes. Are we absolutely certain my Papa will not be able to come?”

Lucas shook his head, “Dr. Elberg rang last night, he said His Majesty had a bad day yesterday, and could not guarantee his fitness for this morning. I am afraid ma’am that even if The King is well enough now, he will not be able to meet you in time.”

Julia nodded, it was not the answer she wanted to hear. She let out a long sigh. “Then I guess I will have to play the mediator today. I don’t want my mother to cause any trouble -” She looked up, and caught a raised eyebrow from Lucas. Julia added, tactfully: “Papa always got along well with his sister, Aunt Margie. My mom on the other hand . . . well, at least she likes Cecilia.”

“Understood ma’am, we added the Queen of Boaga to the garden luncheon today, previously scheduled only for Princess Margarethe, and your mother the Queen Consort.”

“Thank you Lucas,” Julia said. Julia took a moment to stare through, and beyond the paper outlining the schedule. She had not seen her Aunt in quite a long time, at least not in Ostboland. The last time Juilia saw Aunt Margie was a couple of years ago - a chance to stop in Boaga during her free summer at university. There was always gossip in the papers about Aunt Margie’s life in Boaga. Why her mom disliked Aunt Margie’s colorful character, her (at times) carefree attitude, or her relishing the spotlight as a Boagan Queen, Julia never quite pieced together.

There was also the on-again, off-again matter of why Aunt Margie “didn’t bother visiting her suffering brother enough” by “the nature of being family.” Futhermore, Aunt Margie was third in line for the crown. There were whispers that someone of “experience” should be at the helm of a Regency. Julia decided these issues didn’t matter now. What mattered was keeping fences mended, and her few relatives close in her time of trouble. She set down the paper and said. “Lucas, make sure my Aunt has some face to face time with my Papa. It can be informal of course, nothing publicly announced. Arrange a motorcade to take her to Lucklö.”

“Ma’am?”

“I think my dad would like to see her, regardless of his health.”

Lucas nodded. “Understood. I will come back with a proposal this afternoon. . . will that be all for the schedule ma’am?”

“Yes.”

“Very well,” Lucas withdrew one file, and seemingly out of nowhere pulled forth a padfolio. “. . . Then might I remind you of some other upcoming state matters? There is of course the weekly audience with the Prime Minister . . . which we can reschedule at your convenience. Following the state visit on Friday there’s the dinner at the Royal Academy of Sciences, at which you have promised to present their awards. Let’s see . . . Saturday morning there is the opening of St. Cristofsis Hospital, followed by a visit to the new Heja factory in Alberstrand. Sunday you are welcoming the Moderator of the Church of Ostboland for a prayer council, and . . . ah Sunday afternoon I did find time for you to give a speech to the Ostboland Architectural Society. On the following Monday . . . there is the proclamation of the newly enacted laws of the Riksdag. . . “

Julia’s mind glazed over and she scanned the room absently: her wardrobe for today was draped over a chair in the far corner of the room. Apart from the once in a month opportunity to schedule something she actually wanted, Juila fought for the tiniest measures of control. Even then they fought back, recommending a “solid bright color, not two”. She looked back down to the proposed bill:

It shall be illegal for any person to keep animals solely or primarily. . . for the entertainment and or amusement of other persons. . .

Julia snorted. Animals got better treatment than her.

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Boaga
Lobbyist
 
Posts: 22
Founded: Jun 08, 2014
Civil Rights Lovefest

Postby Boaga » Tue Jul 28, 2020 7:45 pm

“The Lamentation of Fate” (Part I)
Boagan Royal Jet
In Flight to Ostboland

(Co-written with Ostboland)

The King of Boaga leaned back in his seat aboard the private plane, staring off into a world that only he could see. The low growl of the jet engines worked at his ears while the smell of wine filled his nostrils. Why the fuck would I drink wine on an airplane? he thought to himself, afraid that he would spill some of it on his uniform. His father always said that he cleaned up well and looked good in uniform, after all.

King Erramun XII was thirty years old, tall and thin with dirty blonde hair and light blue eyes, resembling his mother far more than his father. Margarethe of Ostboland was the reason why Erramun was traveling to Ostboland, in order to visit his maternal relatives and conduct state business. Erramun’s father enjoyed that far more than he did, yet he did it all the same because that was what was expected of him. And like puppets we dance upon our strings...

Not twice but still not done,
The cracks in his head of forgotten sorrows,
The days are long and blunt but few,
Of the work to do gone askew,
While his love she waits at sinners gate,
To await her fate from the belated mew,
Wishing for the dark to come to hide her slum.

Tis but only daybreak and the day still young,
But he sits and works til the toll of the clock,
This is what keeps her off the chopping block,
Mere coincidental planning on Fate's behalf,
But still he wills it: for them both to last,
Through lust and love Fate wears the glove,
That strikes them down: diamonds in the rough.

For tis clear to see a melody,
Will not break Fate's loving death-grip,
He wishes not to see: another couple lovesick,
Because from time to time there comes a rhyme,
It may catch lovers ear and all who they hold dear,
But by and by they notice now,
That everyone is still here...

There was a certain irony to the notion that those who had the most to say about fate vs. freewill were those who were by no means beholden to fate. What was freewill, anyway? Was it the belief that a man was the master of his own destiny? That a man’s course in life was entirely in his hands? Perhaps it was the idea that there was no fate but what men make. Questions for philosophers and academics, but not kings. I lack the luxury of careful contemplation…

King Erramun XII of Boaga was a man acutely aware of his place in life. Once upon a time, he was the firstborn son of King Gozo III of Boaga and Princess Margarethe of Ostboland, of that hardy northern kingdom. From the moment Erramun was born, he was destined to one day become king, a fate as inescapable as it was fortuitous. What man wouldn’t want to be king? Perhaps the better question to ask would be, can a man choose his fate? Long had Erramun considered this question, and long had he sought an answer. Yet even now that he was thirty he was no closer to finding the answer. All that he found instead were more questions.

When Erramun was a child, his grandfather used to tell him that he was destined for great things. What things? Is simply being a king great? Is that to be the sum of his life’s achievements? To have been born. His grandfather was a wise, kind man, and dutiful too, but the old man was also content. His was a generation of Boagans that knew the price of peace, of the terrors of war and ethnic conflict. To merely have peace was enough for him, and his peers. By the time Erramun was of a formative age, the horrors of war had become specters that haunted only the nightmares of old men.

Erramun’s nightmares consisted of feeling trapped in a life not of his choosing, one in which there was no escape. Surely, he had rattled his gilded cage from time to time. Gone to parties, done drugs, had sex with strangers. He admired the young men and women he encountered at clubs and raves, for they seemed so free, the masters of their own destiny. Slaves to their own desires, not to someone else’s.

Ever since he was a child, he was aware of it, and he challenged it. His older sister Izeba, on the other hand, was the golden child of the Royal Family. Dutiful, charitable, well-behaved. Why can’t you be more like your sister? His father used to always ask him. She is such a good child. Oh, Izeba was always so good. Now she’s the Queen of Jungastia. Erramun spent his life trying to escape his cage, Izeba spent her life trying to get in it.

His mother practically stumbled into it after spending so much time trying to escape. She was resigned to her fate when she fell in love. She knew what freedom was like: she was a rebel once. A force of nature all her own, strong willed and strong minded, she still recognized her son’s frustrations, his independence, his fantasies. She sympathized with him, but somehow always returned to the same mantra. The very essence of Monarchy is duty to something higher, and that’s not natural. So, can we find space to shine, be happy, or make a difference while filling the role fate has given us?. It was a dodge, not an answer. If anything, his mother just offered him more questions. She seemed to be content, but she had not shared her secret with him.

Eventually however, Erramun realized the true nature of his existence, due to one particularly strong LSD-induced trip. What he learned was that a man in his position ultimately only has one job, one singular focus. Perpetuation. In a thousand years all of the Kings of Boaga would by then have turned to dust, but hopefully, the name and the institution would endure. That is our legacy. The kings of old endeavored to do the same...to create something everlasting that would carry on long after they were dead. They say a man dies twice, the first time when he draws his last breath, and the second time when your name is spoken for a final time. The names of the Kings of Boaga would never be forgotten, and would live on forever. Perhaps Erramun could not choose his fate, but he could master it, and live forever.

However there were threats to his rule that festered during the reign of his father only to spread upon Erramun’s accession to the throne. Radicals, anarchists, socialists, republicans. They wanted the Kings of Boaga gone so something else could take its place, and Erramun simply could not allow that. He wouldn’t be remembered as the last King of Boaga, not by any means. Yet the more he fought them, the stronger they became.

That is where my wife comes in, Erramun thought. Cecilia of Agrana and Griegro was everything Erramun wasn’t, though she shared some of his interests. Most important however was the fact that she was from Agrana and Griegro, a powerful, allied nation right on the border that was invested in the success of the Boagan monarchy, or so Erramun was inclined to believe. Though I’ve been wrong before…

Tired, bored and deep in thought, Erramun’s lamentation was interrupted by an announcement, from the pilot over the intercom system, informing them that they would be touching down in Elleholm soon. Thank God, he thought as he began to ready himself. He was eager to have his feet upon solid ground once again, as flights between Boaga and Ostboland were by no means short.

A few minutes passed, during which time Erramun closed his eyes and took deep breaths, and then the plane began to make its final descent. Cecilia and Margarethe were elsewhere aboard the plane seeing to their own business, no doubt making sure they appeared camera-ready for the press upon arrival. Erramun felt no such compunction...he knew he looked good, though among the Boagan elite, it was often the case that women had to look better for the cameras than men.

His mom’s vivacious tone broke through the hum of the aircraft: “I think we will go with this one, perfect no?”

“Excellent choice ma’am,” someone replied.

“Hmm . . . no,” Margarete mused. “This one will be better don’t you think?” There were several seconds of silence before she spoke again. “I said this one was good, and then I said this one, and you agreed with me twice. . . Well which is it?“ There were babblings sounds from the flustered attendant. But after a second Margarete said: “God, I can’t stand sycophants.” She let out a large, audible sigh of disappointment.

“The uh . . . hat with the wider brim ma’am,” a third voice popped up.

“What? You know my general dislike of wider brims,” Margarete quipped.

“It is supposed to be uh . . . very sunny today ma’am . . . more cover for your face.” the third voice quivered.

Margarete hummed and then replied. “Yes I suppose so. Well finally someone with an opinion and bit of common sense. Thank you, that one it is.”

Typical.

He heard his mother’s heels approach his seat, coupled with the familiar smell of cigarette smoke. His mother was neither thin nor plump: her curves matching the contours of her bright blue dress. She aged remarkably well, showing just the faintest of wrinkles on her softly tanned skin. Her wavy light hair was styled tight around her head. She wore a matching blue picture hat, angled off the left side. She waved around one lit cigarette in her hand.

Margarete smiled down to her son. “One for the tarmac,” She gestured. “It may be mid-summer - but that lake wind can be gastly.” She took another puff before saying: “I remember your father hating to come up here for Christmastide, you know, to see the family . . . always a struggle . . . I never had the chance to teach him how to ice skate.” She trailed off for a moment, gazing out of the window.

“...That’s because he was tall and clumsy,” Erramun laughed dryly in response to his mother’s observations. “And that was before he got fat.” Erramun had the height and build of his father, but not the weight...he avoided eating too much, lest he also grow fat with age. He remembered how frequently his father was mocked among the nobility and in the press, as if being fat somehow made him a fool.

Margarete had a raised eyebrow and a slight smile, “Your father was not fat . . . just a little round perhaps, too round to go riding by the end.” She took another drag of her cigarette and gazed off through the window. “He was under a lot of stress in his last few years, so I told him to have a hobby besides food . . . let that be a lesson.” The ‘last few years’ of course, worrying about Erramun no doubt.

One thing that Erramun found endearing about his mother was that no matter how fat and unsightly his father became, Margarete loved him no less, and seemed to remain devoted to him until his death. King Gozo III was a simple man, kind and dutiful, who never looked too deeply into the mysteries of life. He simply enjoyed the ride and indulged in his pleasures, be they his wife, his food or his family. When Gozo died, he said that his only regret was that he was leaving too soon.

“A little round...he used to joke that if you rolled him down a bowling lane, there’s no way you wouldn’t get a strike,” laughed Erramun. “If only I had father’s sense of humor, eh?”

His mother let out a small chuckle, “You don’t need his sense of humor to be funny or charming Em. Your Uncle Chris . . . has a dry wit, very subtle, but he is easygoing, makes him a fine man in a crowd. . . even if crowds make him nervous.” She trailed off for a moment. “Now your Aunt Helena,” she scoffed. “Well, her wit is so dry we might as well be flying into a desert.”

Margarete looked puzzled for a moment, as if reflecting on a memory or something she had overheard once. She pressed the butt of her cigarette into an ashtray. “Point is,” she mumbled, dampening out the cinders, “the sooner you stop comparing yourself to your dad, the better you will adapt. It worked for your uncle when our brother died.”

“Yet, don’t all men live in the shadows of their fathers?” Erramun asked with a resigned expression. “Father lived in the shadow of grandfather, and his father before him. The deeds of the son are measured next to those of his father, such is the way of things with men who presume to rule. To think otherwise is naive, I think. Let us ask Uncle Chris if he feels the shade of grandfather Gustaf’s shadow.”

Erramun saw his mother’s expression turn completely serious. “That . . . may not be possible, and you should know better.”

When it came to mother's side of the family, there were some things that could turn even Margarete’s face white. One of those involved probing Uncle Chris. Erramun was never one for royal protocol to begin with, so his deference towards his mother’s side of the family was simply out of respect for her. His father’s death was hard on everyone in the family, mother especially, and the last thing he wanted to do was make her more upset when she was still coping with his death. “Of course mother...I meant nothing by it. My apologies.”

“If you bothered to think before you spoke, you wouldn’t be apologizing. This is your problem,” Margarete snapped. “Always inconsiderate of others. We don’t have that luxury Em.” She took a deep breath, and her immediate rage subsided. Her brother’s condition was a touchy subject. “Hmph. All men living in the shadows of their fathers. Please, what about, daughters, what about your cousin? She’s younger than you are and, for all purposes, in your exact same spot. You don’t think you’re the only one to question your fate? The shadow over her is still very much alive, but her father . . . my brother . . . is effectively gone . . . “

She paused, looking away and shaking her head. “We all have a role to play, as unfortunate as it may be. Rather than asking why, we should ask how - how can we make peace with it.” She smiled once more at Erramun. “Come now, we’ll give them a good show, and then we can relax. . . spend some time with what family we have left.”

Of course, rashness was a common complaint levied against Erramun, both in his personal circles and in the press. Perhaps he was inconsiderate of others…but then again, when have others been considerate of me? He saw the way those vermin politicians spoke about him to the press, the way those young activists described him in their university settings. People who had no idea who Erramun was or what he was like thought they knew him. All because I wear a crown upon my head, and they want a republic.

Nevertheless, Erramun had decided to not provoke an argument with his mother so close to their destination, so he merely listened to what she had to say, and proceeded to nod in understanding. That would be the end of that.
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Boaga
▬▬▬▬▬▬▬ஜ۩۞۩ஜ▬▬▬▬▬▬▬
“Writing isn't about making money, getting famous, getting dates, getting laid, or making friends. In the end, it's about enriching the lives of those who will read your work, and enriching your own life, as well. It's about getting up, getting well, and getting over. Getting happy, okay? Getting happy.” ― Stephen King, On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft

User avatar
Ostboland
Political Columnist
 
Posts: 5
Founded: Jul 28, 2020
New York Times Democracy

Postby Ostboland » Tue Jul 28, 2020 8:23 pm

“The Lamentation of Fate” (Part II)
Harlkson International Airport
Elleholm, Ostboland

(Co-written with Boaga)

Before long, the plane touched down and went through the motions of a plane landing and coming to a full stop, and after that time had come and passed, the royal guardsmen aboard the plane began to organize into formation to depart the plane. The stairs were lowered, and sunlight filled the plane’s interior, prompting Erramun to put on his sunglasses. After several of the guardsmen had departed the plane, Erramun rose from his chair and proceeded to follow them out onto the tarmac below.

Despite having sunglasses on, Erramun squinted in the sun as he walked down the steps, his eyes shifting across the sights to be seen beyond the plane. Somewhere behind him were his wife and his mother, though he did not turn his head to see where exactly they were. Perhaps Erramun couldn’t help, but he had the gait of a playboy, not a king, swaggering from side to side as he made his way down onto the tarmac. He could feel the heat coming off of it in the sun through his shoes.

Even now on the tarmac, Juila had to keep up her posture. She tried as subtly as possible to smooth out her soft pink jacket and matching pencil skirt. Her stylish, small fascinator hat picked up with a slight breeze, but settled down tight on her hair. She was able to keep up her appearances for the cameras, which were everywhere (as usual).

The airplane door swung open, and a few guards popped out. Finally, Juilia caught the familiar sight of her cousin, Erramum, swaggering down the steps with his sunglasses on.

The assembled crowd began cheering as the Boagan royals stepped off of the plane, the civilian onlookers waiving their mixture of Boagan and Osben flags in the air. Cameras flashed and clicked as and reporters shouted “Over here, over here!” intermixed with “Welcome” and “Long live the King!”. One unkind voice, raised above the rest heckled: “Hey wonderboy!” Meanwhile, the brass band struck up the tune of Bakea eta Oparotasuna; noticing the King’s fast descent down the stairs however, the conductor hurried the tempo.

Julia’s brother found the whole thing amusing. Just a pace or two behind her, Mikael snorted and started giggling. She imagined her mother, Queen Helena, giving him a diplomatic scowl.

“Mikael,” Her mother sighed. Helena was nothing if not a measure of decorum. But even now over the roar of the crowd and the band, the Queen Consort could hardly resist commenting. “Sunglasses . . . that boy.” Helena huffed. “Ah there’s Cecilia . . . at least she’s presentable. . .” she added.

As Erramun reached the bottom of the stairs and strode out onto the red carpet, Margarete ducked out of the plane and onto the stairwell. The gathered onlookers, who had died down by this point, suddenly renewed their loud cheers. “It’s the Princess! Princess Margarete! Queen Margarete! Welcome home! Hooray! God save your grace!” and so on. Margarete smiled with the sustained cheers, looking across to the various onlookers and giving several polite royal waves as she descended the steps. When Margarete reached the bottom, she suddenly went off script.

Margarete veered off of the designated red carpet and approached one of the crowd barriers, the civilians and journalists hushing themselves as she approached. The Princess stopped short, and looking to several faces in the crowd said: “Thank you all for your warm welcome, it is so very gratifying.” She nodded in appreciation

One wisecrack photographer piped up. “We wanted to see the King.”

Margarete smiled. “How about this? You can take pictures of a Queen and a Princess right here,” she quipped. “. . .a two for one offer!” The crowd laughed and clapped in response. The Princess took a minute to pose, rotating between her left and right. Then Margarete went up to one young girl and signed her flag. “Hello there. Oh thank you very much. Now then, don’t let anyone tell you a girl has to dream small, ok? There you go, thank you sweetie.” She shook a few hands.

“How do you feel about being back home Your Majesty?” A journalist piped up.

“Well now . . .” Margarete smiled, turning to the press agent. “. . . I feel like having a drink, how about you?” The crowd laughed and nodded. “Is Levandeek still good? I haven’t had one in a long time.”

“They’re still very good,” An elderly, eager man chimed in. “the best wheat beer in Artemia ma’am.”

“Oh that’s excellent.” Margarete replied. “We’ll have to have one at a local bar.” The man blushed slightly. Several of the women around him giggled.

“What would you say is the main difference between Boaga and Ostboland?” Another journalist asked.

Margarete chuckled: “That’s easy: my brother is on all the money here!” Again the crowd laughed, keeping up the joyous mood for several seconds for several seconds.

“What are you most looking forward to on your visit here?” A third journalist said, raising his hand.

Margarete looked at the faces in the crowd for a moment. “Family. . .” She replied. “ . . .of which you all are an integral part. . .” Several of the onlookers clapped and cheered her name again. After a moment’s pause Margarete addressed them all. “Now I do have to go, I apologize, but thank you all again so much for coming!” As she turned and walked away towards the red carpet, the crowd cheered once more.

Meanwhile, Erramun walked the length of the red carpet, during which time his wife caught up to Erramun and walked alongside him. Queen Cecilia Was radiant in the light of the sun, in her white court dress that contrasted with her tan skin and long, pinned-back brown hair. With the eyes of the masses upon him Erramun finally did his best impression of his mother and pulled a fat cigar out of a coat pocket. He held it out, and one of his security guards did him the favor of lighting it for him. Erramun took a long, deep drag of his cigar before looking up and blowing smoke into the air, and then smiling at the onlookers.

More than a few members of the crowd and some press officials laughed, finding the young cigar smoking King a symbol of amusement and mockery. In between the ongoing cheers one could hear a shout or two of “Can’t light it yourself?” or “How much is the brand paying you?” or “Found something larger than your ego?” . . . one particularly unkind person in the crowd shouted above the rest: “Ah! Your latest oral fixation?” The last one made more than a couple people jeer. Again, Julia’s brother Mikael let out an undiplomatic snort from behind her.

Helena was speechless for a moment, before finally muttering “. . . what a boorish buffon, the sheer indecency . . .” Julia did not turn around to address her mother's comment, but continued to calmly stare straight ahead at Erramun and Cecilia. She would take things in stride. Her cousin’s attempt at being an . . . everyman just now was a bit . . . unusual in her mind, but she didn’t let that distract her from playing the dignified role. Worst case scenario, she had enough grace for the both of them.

When they had sufficiently approached, Julia stepped forward and said, warmly: “Cousin, it is good to see you again, welcome back to Ostboland.” She went for the kiss on both cheeks, doing her best to avoid the cigar smoke. She dropped a bit of her formality, saying: “Em, how have you been? Still getting a lot of sun down on the beaches I hope.”

Erramun glared one time at the heckling crowds before giving them the finger, and then he faced his cousin with a grin on his face, all while Cecilia laughed in utter delight. After Julia kissed Erramun on both cheeks, he reciprocated. “Thank you Julia, it’s great to be back, such lovely people in this country,” he said, looking over his shoulder contemptuously. Yeah, they like it well enough. I’ve been well...surely you remember my wife, Princess Cecilia of Agrana and Griegro.”

The young queen curtsied formally, dignified in her pose and possessing all the magnificence that one might expect of that great house, said to descend directly from Mary Magdalene herself. “Princess Julia,” the Queen said in a flowing voice, “he gets plenty of sun, especially on his ass.” The Queen sniggered gleefully into her gloved hands.

“Yeah yeah yeah, all around tan right?” Erramun shrugged before handing off his cigar to his wife. “If I recall correctly, the beaches up this way aren’t nearly as...accommodating.”

Julia tried her best, but she couldn’t resist smirking and letting out a laugh. “Not really, well - unless you are interested in the Polar Bear Swim,” she quipped. Julia took Ceclia’s hand and reciprocated her curtsy. “. . . I hear they’re signing people up for next winter already.” Juiia turned and waved for them to come forward to meet her mother and younger brother.

Helena the Queen Consort was all smiles, despite the occasional side glance at the still fuming cigar. “Cecilia! Hi! Oh it is so nice to see you again - how is your family doing?” She went in for a nice hug.

Mikael gave his older cousin Erramun a short, respectful nod. Glancing back and forth between the crowd and his cousin, the young prince raised his eyebrows mischievously and grinned: “You’ll be front page news tomorrow.”

Cecilia exchanged embraces with Queen Helena, while Erramun did the same with Mikael. “Your Majesty,” Cecilia said to Helena, “my sister is well, enjoying her life as queen, or so I’m inclined to believe. As for me, well, I’m just having a grand old time being a queen myself. Your nephew is a splendid man after my own heart,” she explained before taking a long, deep drag of the cigar. Cecilia blew the smoke out in the shape of a halo and watched it fly away.

“...When do I not make front page news?” Erramun shrugged after he embraced his cousin. “I know for a fact somebody took a picture of me flipping off the crowd, but hey, that’s what they want right? Gotta give the people what they want, it’s good for publicity,” he laughed.

Again Mikael grinned, “Sorry bud, you were beat out this morning by that sheep which could balance four plates on her - “

All of a sudden the light, full voice of Margarete burst forth: “Julia! Julia is that really you?” Margarete briskly walked forward, as if full of a new wellspring of energy, kissing her niece on both cheeks, followed by a curtsy.

“Oh, Aunt Margie!” Julia looked a bit surprised. One moment her aunt trailed off to talk to the crowd, the next moment she appeared out of nowhere. How does she do that? “I uh . . . wow it is nice to see you again!”

“My you were such a little thing when we last met! Look at how well you’ve grown - and doing such a splendid job so far,” Margarete beamed. Margarete looked over to Erramun, and then to her nephew, and gave Mikael a hug. “Mikael, not causing your sister too much trouble?” Mikael shrugged in response. “Oh now really? Don’t make it too easy . . . here later on I can tell you all about the pranks we pulled on my dad.” The two smiled at each other.

Then, the interaction Juilia dreaded: Helena turned away from Cecilia and Margarete turned away from Mikael. They swiveled into each other, their eyes met.

“Margarete.”

“Helena.”

The two queen consorts exchanged one of the shortest hugs in recorded history, almost like a light tap on both of the shoulders blades in the back. It perhaps resembled a security sweep at an airport: maybe each one was looking for a concealed weapon on the other. For a moment they looked at each other in silence. Then Margarete pursed her lips and said:

“Well . . . how are -”

“HE is doing okay,” Helena interrupted: “I saw him two days ago. He’s still asking when his sister will ‘get home from her vacation, and take the train up from the Equator’.” Helena now frowned slightly, and raised an eyebrow. “You know, Erik is around all the time now to talk to him . . . ”

For just a second, Julia detected a flash of shock run across her Aunt’s face, realizing just how seriously her brother’s condition had deteriorated. Julia tried not to interject. You didn’t have to go there mom . . . she thought. Uncle Erik died over 30 years ago.

Margarete tapped her little handbag with some of her fingers, looking off to the distance. She let off a short huff, trying to process. “Wow I . . . I didn’t . . . oh Hele-”

Helena was relentless. She glowered over (and somehow through) her sister in law: “So, are you going to cut your visit short like last time, or will you actually be staying the whole trip with your son and daughter-in-law?”

For several seconds neither woman said anything. Julia thought it was incredible that both of these trained women had completely forgotten that an entire cheering crowd and a flock of reporters were still watching them. Unable to let this silence and awkward staring continue for any longer, Julia finally said, “I think the cars are ready for us, maybe we should start walking?” She gestured between her aunt and mother, motioning them down the carpet. Everyone seemed to nod and walk forward.

While Erramun observed the conversation between his mother and and aunt with great amusement, Cecilia considered the exchange carefully, and when they all started walking down the length of carpet, Cecilia addressed Queen Helena. “For what it’s worth, your Majesty, it is certainly my intention to take full advantage of this...visit, and I would feel much more confident in doing so if my mother-in-law is my guide, if you will.”

Erramun felt the need to suppress a laugh. Cecilia apparently had a lifelong habit of pushing buttons and creating awkward situations for her own personal amusement. When she was younger, she would often assume the opposite position of her sister, Queen Isabella, if only to provoke a reaction from her. Some in the media even insisted that Cecilia only married Erramun because she wanted to be a queen, and only after she was told by members of her native court that she wasn’t queen material. So now here she was, poking and prodding foreign monarchs, consorts and princelings so she could enjoy a tickle from their frustration.

Helena waited for Cecilia to catch up before turning to her and saying: “That’s wonderful, then I hope you don’t miss a single opportunity - and oh -” she craned her neck slightly, “you too Em - seriously do enjoy yourself while you’re here. At some point you’ll have to go down to Lucklö, your uncle would be so happy to see you.”

Margarete was now walking next to Julia as they paraded down the carpet, taking a moment or two to wave to the crowds as they approached the parked vehicles. In between a wave Margarete leaned over to ask “Do they still keep the stables?”

“Still there, I think they’ve renovated them recently for the horses.”

“Ah well, nice to hear something has changed at Lucklö.”

“It still has its pretty view Aunt Margie.”

“Yes, it was my favorite . . . the lake, the dense forests, the mountains, would never want to miss a day outside.”

“...Basically the northern half of Boaga,” Erramun laughed. They continued walking up to the car, and that was when Cecilia took the opportunity to finish her cigar and throw it down on the ground before waving and blowing kisses to the crowds that had gathered to welcome them.

Once they got into the car, Cecilia sighed, and said to Erramun. “Yeah, but the northern half of Boaga smells like feces. I can’t imagine the same can be said of the wilds of Ostboland, but then again I’ve been wrong before.”

Erramun got comfortable in his seat and then he asked his wife, “are you always a smartass?'

Smirking, Cecilia responded, "nope. Sometimes I'm asleep.”

Letting out a laugh, Erramun teased, “and you don’t get much sleep,” before sliding his hand down her back.

Cecilia however was unamused by the joke. “For most of my life I have been adored by fools and hated by people of good sense, and they all make up stories about me in which I am either a saint or a whore. But I am above these judgments, I am a Queen.”

“...Do you ever lament your fate?” Erramun asked her as he pulled his hand away.

“No,” replied Cecilia as she shook her head. “Not even for a moment.” She smiled then and kissed Erramun on the cheek, and for the first time the entire trip, he thought that maybe his fate wasn’t so bad after all.


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