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Anthologies of Ajax (Closed, Ajax Only)

Where nations come together and discuss matters of varying degrees of importance. [In character]
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Ghant
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Founded: Feb 11, 2013
Civil Rights Lovefest

Anthologies of Ajax (Closed, Ajax Only)

Postby Ghant » Sat Sep 23, 2017 8:10 pm

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WARNING
The following thread may contain scenes of implied adult situations. Reader discretion is advised.
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Ghant
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Ghant
Minister
 
Posts: 2440
Founded: Feb 11, 2013
Civil Rights Lovefest

Postby Ghant » Sat Sep 23, 2017 8:20 pm

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“One of the main tasks of adolescence is to achieve an identity—not necessarily a knowledge of who we are, but a clarification of the range of what we might become, a set of self-references by which we can make sense of our responses, and justify our decisions and goals.” ― Terri Apter, Altered Loves



The Zorgindutako Forest
Province of Eskura, Ghant
August 1884


The boy was hungry, but he had learned to go without food. Compared to his companions, he was faring far better in that regard. Stupid boys, he thought of his three friends as they all trotted through the woods upon their young steeds. They get lost and hungry and they start whining like girls. There was one sensation that the boy felt, and it was fear. For these woods are cursed, haunted by demons…

Looking to his right, the boy glanced at his best friend, the fourteen year old Edrigu Jehan, son of Lord Jorek Jehan and the only friend the boy had in all the world. Edrigu was everything that the boy wasn’t, tall and strong and handsome with curly brown hair and flashing blue eyes. The boy had spent many years as Edrigu’s companion, and in many ways, the Prince of Jehenna was who the boy wanted to be like. Strong, admired, loved…

The second boy that rode to the boy’s left was Akil Roika. He was an acquaintance of Edrigu and the boy, and nearly as puny as the latter. His hair was a dark, murky brown and his eyes a dull yellow, and he was still short for a boy a thirteen. Akil’s pale face was quivering with fear and anxiety, and looked as though he was fighting back the urge to cry. The Roikas are supposed to be warriors, the boy thought. But Akil is about to piss himself…

Riding ahead of the three of them was the last boy, Gilamu Adara, who got them all into this mess. Like Edrigu, he was fourteen, and was also a tall and strapping lad, but unlike Edrigu, who was wise, Gilamu was brash and arrogant. And mean. It was Gilamu’s father, Lord Mikel, that invited Edrigu, Akil and the boy to come and visit Adara in eastern Eskura on the edge of the great Zorgindutako Forest, and it was Gilamu’s idea to steal horses at dawn in order to go explore the haunted forest.

“The guards, ostlers and stableboys are all afraid of me,” Gilamu told them all the night before. “They all know that when I’m lord, I’ll punish anyone that refuses me.” the young lordling wanted to impress his guests by taking them into the forest, a place that was strictly forbidden to him, his siblings and anyone that wasn’t specifically sent there by the Lord Mikel himself.

The key to the pulling off this expedition was the presence of the boy, who was dragged along despite his very palpable reservations. He was rather short still, and scrawny, to say the least. In fact he was all skin and bones, with arms and legs like sticks, his friends said, the skin of his chest clinging so tight to his bones that one could see the outline of his ribs. His face was gaunt and his expression sullen, for seldom did he smile, or laugh. His eyes seemed to droop and sink back into his skull, a rich red color like freshly drawn blood. His hair was a thick black mop that fell over his forehead and poked at his brow.

Indeed, most boys mocked him, girls shunned him, and the great lords, princes and kings of Ghant looked down on him, that weak, puny little boy that seemed destined for a life of woeful mediocrity. I didn’t ask to be born, he thought with a frown as he rode along. I didn’t ask for this either, and yet I’m here. That seemed the story of the boy’s life…never feeling like he was supposed to be there, or anywhere for that matter, that the rest of the world just wanted him gone, and yet he was.

Gilamu kept leading them through the trees, deeper and deeper they seemed to go into the ancient, vast forest, so thick with leaves above them that they almost blocked out the sun, leaving only a few strains of light to penetrate the dense lair of foliage. The trees themselves appeared as specters, the color of a rotten greenish tinted brown, slick with some sort of toxic wetness. The air was foul, stinking of death and decay, a strong lingering odor that made the boy gag.

The boy could hear things off in the distance, so far away through the trees that it was just blackness. Some of the sounds he recognized, creatures and beasts of the wood that he had learned about or seen Edrigu and his father hunt. Others he did not recognize, strange and terrible bellows that rumbled from the void, the boy assuming that they were the monsters that he was told dwelt within the deepest depths of the woods. The forest itself was said to be the size of a country, spanning from Thule to the north all the way to Adara in the south, with ancient frontier keeps on the western edge like Roika, and the Kingdom of Odolargia to the east, where the Red Ghantar dwelt.

Ahead of them, Gilamu stopped, and began to turn his horse around to face the others. Looking annoyed, he stared directly at the boy. “Nathan,” Gilamu snorted. “What’s your problem?”

The boy, named Nathan, looked up and glanced shyly at Gilamu before looking away. “…I’m fa…fa…following you, my lord.”

“You’re following me, that’s great,” snorted Gilamu contemptuously. “Don’t think I don’t notice you back there sulking. You’ve been doing that the whole time we’ve been out here. I brought you out here to show you the Haunted Forest, and you don’t seem to care.”

Edrigu and Akil exchanged glances while Nathan stared at the ground. “We’re lost, my lord. We’ve been out here for hours. It’ll be dark in another few.”

His face stretched tout, Gilamu rode up a little closer to Nathan, and said “we’re not lost, I know exactly where we’re going.” Pointing in the direction he was riding, he added that “if we keep going that way, we will be back at Adara before nightfall, and when we get there, you’re going to tell my father that this was your idea, because you wanted to see the forest, and that we ensured your safe conduct throughout.”

“…okay,” Nathan managed to stammer. “But what if we’re still out here by the time it’s dark?”

Gilamu brought his horse up beside Nathan’s, and leaned over closely, so that his face encompassed the scope of Nathan’s vision. “Well then I guess my father’s men, and Imperial rangers will come out looking for us, because you’re the Prince Imperial of Ghant and the eventual heir to the throne. You’re story will be the same though, that it was your idea and you commanded us to attend you. That way, nobody gets in trouble.”

Except for me. Nathan always got in trouble, even though it was seldom actually his fault. It started when he was born, back in the winter of 1871. It was said that for days and nights his mother labored in the old, cursed Castle of Seven Towers in the northern part of Ghish. Princess Magdalena of Odolargia was said to have engaged in dark rituals throughout her pregnancy, until finally she died bringing forth the young Prince Nathan. His father, Crown Prince Sebastian, had no love for Magdalena or her baby, which turned out to be a puny, sickly thing with pasty white skin and blood red eyes. Indeed, Sebastian decided early on that he wanted nothing to do with his only son and heir.

Fortunately, Emperor Nathan II and his consort Elena did, and saw to their grandson’s education. For a time, things were good, but the Emperor and Empress were old, and in time Sebastian remarried, this time to Princess Adelaide of Lyncanestria. Adelaide disliked the boy because, in the young Nathan’s mind, he was not hers. He was a strange and depressed child that killed the ambiance of the Imperial Court, and made lords and commons alike uncomfortable with his sullen, brooding nature.

Adelaide had many daughters that harassed and plagued their half-brother Nathan from the onset, teasing him and playing pranks on him, the worst of which were conducted by the eldest, Desmera. It wasn’t until Desmera started lying to her mother and father that Nathan was “inappropriate” towards them that he was sent away to the north, so that Adelaide wouldn’t have to feel the burden of the boy’s presence. It was rumored that as soon as she gave birth to a son that someone would try to kill Nathan so he’d be removed from the line of succession, and yet a son never came, only more arrogant princesses who were told that their half-brother was a freak.

Maybe this is a trick, Nathan thought as Gilamu accosted him. Maybe Adelaide has given birth to a son and I don’t know it yet. Maybe I was led out here to die. Edrigu wouldn’t betray him like that though. Of course he wouldn’t. “…I will try, my lord,” Nathan told Gilamu. “Though I worry for how long we will be out here, with limited food and water to stay us.”

“Don’t worry about it,” Gilamu snapped. “Your Highness. I just need you to be on the same page and do as you’re told. Don’t forget.” With that said, Gilamu wheeled his horse around and continued leading the way, leaving the other three boys behind to follow him.

“I wouldn’t worry about him too much,” Edrigu reassured the Prince of Ghant. “He’s just like that because his father is hard on him, so he takes it out on others.”

Why is it always me though? “I pity his smallfolk then, for surely he will abuse them once he’s lord,” the Ghantish Prince replied.

“…He’s going to get us all killed!” exclaimed Akil as he spurred his horse forward. “We will get mauled to death by predators, eaten by the trees, captured by bandits, desecrated by demons or…” Akil shuddered, “sacrificed by the White Hands. They’re still out here, you know, sacrificing virgins upon altars of bone covered in human flesh.”

That’s stupid. The Prince Imperial shook his head, and countered that “the menfolk that dwell in this forest are just as likely to avoid us as we are likely to avoid them, I think.”

Edrigu began to speak on the subject as well, explaining that “I’ve heard stories that there used to be an entity called the Tower That Ate People. On the edge of the forest, a powerful lord built a tower from the lumber he collected from the trees. Then the tower began to devour the people of the land. Depending on who you ask, it was a Roika, a Dyn or a Dain that burned the tower down.”

“It was a Roika,” Akil pointed out very matter-of-factly. “The Dains are a bunch of pretty boys and the Dyns are all fat. No way one of those houses produced such a great warrior.”

Nathan carefully steered his horse through the gnarled roots of the great trees and their writing branches. Their horses were tired, but not as tired as they would have been if they were made to run. Each of them had a sack tied to their saddles containing cured meats, bread and water. Akil produced some of this meat and took a bite of it. “This tastes pretty good.”

“You ought to be saving that,” Edrigu told him with a stern expression. “We don’t know how long we will be out here, remember?”

“…Maybe we will find the Jakarutu.” That caused Edrigu and Akil both to slow down and stare at Nathan with jaws agape.

“Are you insane?” Akil asked incredulously. “We’re in the Haunted Forest where the cursed tribe is said to dwell and you speak their name? I’d rather run into a cave bear than that lot!”

Nathan exhaled deeply and lowered his eyes. “…I’m sorry, I didn’t mean anything by it. They’ve always fascinated me is all.” Things ancient, dark and mysterious always captivated the Ghantish Prince from a young age, and there wasn’t a book in the Imperial Library on such subjects that he hadn’t read. His Aunt Alexandra had even given him books on ancient mysteries every year for his birthday that she managed to acquire from the continent. “The fact that they’re said to still practice the ancient magics lost to the world of men.”

Akil sighed and responded by proclaiming “yeah, to worship demons…”

Up ahead, Gilamu stopped his horse and raised a hand, prompting the other boys to do the same. “I found something,” Gilamu told them. “Don’t move.” Having said that, Gilamu dismounted his horse, and walked in front of his horse. He knelt down and began examining the ground before him with his gloved hands, moving aside accumulated vegetation that had piled up at the spot.

The other boys got out of their saddles one at a time, starting with Edrigu, followed by Akil and lastly Nathan, albeit reluctantly. They gathered around Gilamu and stared at the thing he was uncovering. “It’s a pit,” he told them after removing one last rotten log partially concealing it. “It’s a pit in the middle of the woods.” The four of them peered down into it, but couldn’t see anything.

“…I bet there are monsters that live down in there,” gulped Akil with shaking hands. “Cave trolls that sleep during the day and come out at night in search of hot blood and fresh meat, dragging whatever they find down into the hole and eating it all, meat and hair and bones!”

Gilamu grabbed Akil by the collar of his coat and said “if you don’t keep your mouth shut I’ll throw you down there and see how long it takes for you to hit the bottom.” Then he pushed Akil away, causing him to fall backwards and land on his behind. With wide eyes he pushed himself away from the pit. “Okay okay, sorry.”

“It’s not a very big hole,” Nathan said as he crouched down in front of it. “It looks like it’s been here a long time.”

“There could be treasure,” Edrigu said with fleeting glances to the others. “Knights of old, bandits and Jendebasa were known to hide treasure in holes in remote areas. This is about as remote as it gets…maybe there’s Templar treasure down there from the Northern Crusades.”

Gilamu smirked, and nodded his head in excitement. “Good thinking…you’re probably right. We have rope and a lantern, so let’s send someone down there to take a look, shall we? Who’s the smallest, lightest one here?” The question was rhetorical, because he and everyone else knew the answer. Gilamu’s eyes turned to the Prince Imperial, and then he pointed. “You, your Highness. You’re going down that hole.”

Oh no… “I can’t,” Nathan said squeamishly. “It looks deep.”

“You’re the only one who can fit easily,” Gilamu said with narrowed eyes and furrowed brow. “So you’re going. If you don’t, so help me Gods I will hold you down, tie a rope around your waist and lower you down into it. It’s going to get dark soon though, so the sooner you get moving, the sooner you’ll be out and we’ll be on our way.”

Nathan’s eyes were wide and his face full of terror as he looked between Edrigu and Akil. “I can’t climb ropes,” Akil stated, no back on his feet. “I’m too clumsy.”

“And I’m too big.” Edrigu put a hand on Nathan’s shoulder. “It’ll be alright…I believe in you. Don’t you want to be the one who discovered ancient treasure? Think about that…all the girls will want to talk to you then. Maybe even Galla Behean.”

Galla Behean. Truly there were no girls like Lady Galla. Of an age with Nathan, she wasn’t from an ancient, powerful or rich house, but she was beautiful and smart and kind and gracious. She never paid Nathan any mind, but he always watched her when she was at court in Ghish, looking away only when she might notice. In his dreams they danced, and she’d laugh and smile and tell him how nice and smart and handsome he was. But those are just dreams.

The thought gave Nathan a flash of courage, prompting him to nod. “Fine, I’ll go. Lower the rope and give me a lantern.”

“That’s the spirit,” said Gilamu as he ruffled Nathan’s hair and went to the sack tied to his horse’s saddle. He pulled out a long rope, and tied one end to a weight before he began lowering it down into the hole. “See how deep this hole is.” After about a minute, the weight seemed to touch the bottom. “There we go,” he said with a wide grin as he pulled it back up. “We will tie it around your waist and lower you down. Understood?”

Nathan nodded as he clutched at his lantern and trembled as the rope was pulled back out and tied around his waist. “…I’ll see you soon…” he spoke in a broken voice as Gilamu and Edrigu maneuvered him to the hole with Akil watching off to the side.

“Good luck,” Akil called out as Nathan was lowered down into the darkness of the pit. It was wide enough around to where he could stretch out his arms, but he could touch either side with his hands outstretched. The sides were rough, composed of thick layers of packed dirt. Eventually the dirt gave way to stones, and Nathan thought he could feel ledges. Even further down, the walls seemed to slope, as though perhaps at one time, it collapsed, leaving only a vertical drop down.

After a minute, Nathan’s feet touched the bottom of the pit, and he looked up to see the light, and his three friends standing around looking down. Aside from the singular strand of light beaming down, the area surrounding him was pitch black, filling him with a sense of unease the likes of which he’d never felt before. Swallowing hard, he began to untie the rope around his waist, and once he was free of it, he lit his lantern in order to see what lay before him.

With the pit illuminated by the light of the oil lantern, he could see that it was in fact a cave, with only one way to go. Parts of the walls looked like they were made by collapsed debris, while others still looked as though they’d always been that way. The ground sloped gently down in front of him, and he took careful steps down into the cave. He could hear nothing other than the echoes of his footsteps.

The walls of the cave tunnel, which seemed wide enough to accommodate three men abreast, had paintings upon them. Some were red and some were black, of animals and warriors and creatures in between. One seemed to portray the fae called Lamia, short and squat creatures with big hands and duck feet. They were either working or using magic, from the looks of the cave paintings.

At the end of the tunnel, darkness opened up around the Prince Imperial, as he walked into a large, open chamber. Straight ahead was a large, flat wall, and painted upon it was a monstrous figure. It was tall and wide, black with holes where its eyes should be, a gaping mouth of what appeared to be sharp teeth, and curved horns upon the top of its head, pointing upward. Surrounding this painting were Ghantish runes painted red. Nathan got the distinct impression that these runes were painted in blood.

Below the great cave painting were the remains of a person, Nathan could discern in the flickering lantern light. The bones were old, falling apart from the look of it, and clad in armor so old and weathered that he couldn’t determine what kind it was. Only two things about him stood out, that beside him was a small, curved bronze sickle, and that his hand was outstretched. The prince picked up the sickle and slid it through his belt.

Nathan turned to see what the arm was facing, and there upon the floor, he could see an object lying on the ground. It was a black ring, lined with gold on either edge of the band. It lay flat upon the ground, and looked as though it hadn’t moved in a very long time. Nathan stared at it before turning his gaze away to see what else there could be. There didn’t seem to be much, as the cave split into two paths that went further down on each side of the wall, and no other treasures or trinkets could be found.

I guess that’s it then, the Prince Imperial said with a sigh as he walked back over to the ring. Stooping down, he picked it up with one hand and let it lay flat against his palm. It felt smooth against his skin, almost wet, even though the cave was incredibly dry. Nor did the ring appear worn in any way, as the gold shined bright in the light of the lantern. What manner of treasure is this? he thought as he let the ring shift around on his open hand.

Well, finders keepers. With a shrug, the Prince Imperial carefully maneuvered the ring onto his ring finger. Despite the ring appearing to be sized for an adult, it fit his finger snugly, as though it were just the right size. Nathan smiled faintly as he looked at the ring upon his finger, pleased with himself that he found such a nice piece of treasure in such a dark and dreary place.

Just before he was about to leave back the way he came, the Prince began to hear voices, off in the distance. He turned around fast on his heels, peering into the darkness beyond. The voices seemed to be everywhere yet nowhere all at once, faint whisperings that filled his ears. He couldn’t understand what they were saying, but many of them sounded as though they were in pain.

Nathan turned around to face the entrance, and there upon the wall next to it, he froze in his tracks as he felt his heart plunge deep into his chest and his legs nearly give out underneath him. There upon the wall were two black, round pits like eyes, and beneath it a wide slit like a mouth. In strange motions, the eyes shifted shapes as though they were looking around or blinking, and the mouth seemed to contort. Then it spoke, but when it did, it wasn’t in the chamber, but in Nathan’s mind.

“A child,” the face said sternly. “It’s been so long since I’ve seen a child, or any other man…”

Nathan’s first instinct was to run away. He turned to run down the tunnel leading out, but on the opposite wall he saw the face again. “Why run, child? I am everywhere you are…I will not hurt you.”

The Prince tried to speak, but the words caught in his throat. He nearly pissed himself, but fought it back, afraid that his friends would mock him. “…What are you?” he asked the face, his voice full of terror.

The face blinked, and its mouth seemed to wiggle as it shifted across the cave wall. “I was once a man, and before that a boy, like you. How old are you? Weak and frightened…you are scared yes?” the voice asked, echoing in the prince’s head.

“…Very,” Nathan stammered, trying not to collapse on noodle-like legs. “I'm thirteen, but I will be fourteen soon. What is your name?”

“...I have many names, none of which matter now. The ring is named Eraztunbeltzak, and it is all that remains of me.” The voice seemed sad as it spoke now, and the face on the wall somber in its expression. “What year is it?”

“…1884, of the Common Era,” the frightened prince answered. “Did you not know?”

“…No,” it answered. “The Common Era…this is beyond my time, child. When did the Common Era begin?”

Nathan gulped. What strange magic is this? Am I losing my mind? “…Roughly two thousand years ago, with the birth of our Lord Jesus Christ. Before that was antiquity.”

The face seemed to contemplate this before responding. “Lord Jesus Christ…I do not know of this Lord. He is after my time. Tell me child, where are you from?”

“I’m from Ghish…if you must know,” Nathan said more confidently this time.

“Ghish…I’ve never heard of this place before…is it in Ghant?” The face seemed curious, with an inquisitive look.

The Prince explained that “it is in Ghant. It is in the south, down along the coast. It is the capital of Ghant.”

“Ah, the south, where the water people live. You don’t look like a water person. Your hands are not webbed and your eyes are not slit,” the face said in amusement. “The capital of Ghant…so it is unified now, under one?”

“Yes…under my grandfather, Emperor Nathan II,” the prince boasted. “So too am I named Nathan.”

The face twisted into a smirk. “Emperor…I do not know what this means. And Nathan…I’ve never heard that name before.”

Nathan thought of the best way to explain what an Emperor was to someone who hadn’t heard it before. “It’s like a king of kings.”

“A king of kings…I was once one of those,” the face spoke as though it were recalling fond memories. “I once ruled over much of the land, from where the ice never melts to where the water people dwelt in halls of black stone. The tribes of men rose against me and cast me down, but they did not destroy me. I lived on, sleeping, but now I am awake once more.”

…This has gone too far. Nathan gestured towards the entrance with his lantern, and said “I should be going soon, my friends are waiting for me and it will be dark soon.”

The face contorted into a laughing guise, and said that “Your friends think you’re weak, and puny. My tribe thought that too. None liked me, and I was alone. You feel alone too, yes?”

Nathan looked towards the entrance, and then back to the face on the wall, and nodded. “I do, yes. It hurts…I want people to like me too.”

“People will only like you if you are strong,” the face told him as its eyes narrowed. “People will only love you if they respect and fear you. I see what you desire, child. Love, admiration, respect…one named Galla Behean. I see you dancing beneath the starlit night sky. No, you are not insane…I can see into your mind. That is how I know.”

The Prince Imperial’s jaw dropped, and once again his words got stuck in the back of his throat. “I can’t have any of that…Those things are not for boys like me.”

The face seemed to twist into a purposeful look, like a teacher. “You can have that and everything else you desire…all those things for a boy like you. They can be yours…I can help you achieve them. Would you like for me to help you, child?”

“…How can you help me?” he reluctantly asked the face.

“I can transform you. I can make you tall, I can make you handsome. I can make you strong, and I can make you powerful. Everyone will know you, and those that don’t love you will fear you, and you can destroy them it if pleases you. Together, there is nothing we won’t be able to accomplish.”

Nathan took a step back, and shook his head. “Listen, whatever you are. I don’t want to hurt anyone. I just want my family to love me and be proud of the man that I become. I think I can do that on my own…”

As the Prince said that, the face began to change, twisting into something angry, and evil. “They won’t, and they never will. You are weak, and all of them mock you. Even your beloved Galla Behean pities how weak you are…how could she ever love you? How could they ever love you? They won’t…not without me. Make no mistake child, you belong to me now, whether you wish it or not. It will be easier for you if you accept my domination. Together, you and I shall achieve great things, things I should have finished long ago, and long after your bones have turned to dust like mine have, men shall know your name…”

In a swift motion, Nathan tried to pull the ring off his hand. It came off easily, but the face was still on the wall. It laughed and said that “I am in your mind now, child. It’s too late…” the prince began to run away into the tunnel leading out, but the voices continued in his head. “You cannot run…there is no escape…embrace me…accept my gifts…feel my power…”

Nathan collapsed on the ground, shattering the lantern against the cave tunnel wall. He gripped his head with both hands, and began to beat against his skull as he clinched his teeth. Then he fell back limp in the darkness, his eyes rolling back into his head. “Yes…don’t fight it…now rise.” After a few seconds, the prince pushed himself up, put the ring back on and began walking in the direction of the light, where the rope was still dangling.

“I’m here,” Nathan called out to his friends. “I’m coming back up.” He tied the rope around his waist, and then his companions began to hoist him up. "Soon, we shall be in the light of day once more," the voice said, now firmly entrenched in his mind. "We shall be free of that wretched cave."

Once he reached the surface, Nathan gasped for air as his eyes struggled to accept the sunlight, diminishing as it was now that the day was nearing night. “What did you find?” Akil asked curiously. “I thought you got lost…you were down there for awhile.”

“Did you find treasure?” Edrigu asked gently. “Anything at all?”

Gilamu looked at Nathan before grabbing his wrist. “Yeah, he found something alright,” he showed the prince’s ringed hand to the others. “A ring…look at that. It looks nice, doesn’t it? And where’s my lantern?”

“It’s mine,” Nathan told him. “I found it. And the lantern broke.”

“I found the pit,” countered Gilamu severely, squeezing Nathan’s wrist. “The ring is mine by rights, especially after you broke my lantern.”

Akil took a step forward and said “but he went down there and got it…”

“You be quiet,” Gilamu snapped at the younger boy. “Come on Edrigu, back me up on this.”

Edrigu looked between Nathan and Gilamu and shook his head with a heavy sigh. “Let him go, Gilamu. He found the ring, it’s his.”

Gilamu clenched his teeth and squeezed Nathan’s wrist so hard that the prince yelled in pain. “Fine, he can keep it,” Gilamu exclaimed as he threw the prince down to the ground. “Little shit.”

"You see?" the voice said. "He thinks you’re weak, that he can push you around and treat you like some wretch. Yet you wish to become a great king of kings? You will never be great unless men respect you…fear you. Love is only for the strong. Show them that you are strong. Do it…do it…do it…"

The Prince Imperial laid on the ground for a few seconds, before reaching down for the bronze sickle he found on the body in the cave. Then with great swiftness, he pushed himself up and charged at Gilamu. Before the older boy had a chance to react, Nathan buried the sickle into Gilamu’s neck. Edrigu and Akil both shouted in horror as blood spurted out of the boy’s neck as he desperately tried in vain to clutch at the wound.

At that point, Nathan smirked as he leaned in close by Gilamu’s ear. “My name is Nathan, and one day I shall rule this empire as Nathan the Third.” With a push of both hands, Nathan sent Gilamu down the pit with the sickle still in his neck, hitting against the sides of the shaft until he hit the bottom in a snapping thud.

Akil was so frightened that he ran back to his horse and tried to mount the saddle in order to ride away, while Edrigu stammered, seemingly at a loss for words. “You killed him,” Edrigu said in a broken voice. “What will we tell his father?”

“We’ll tell him that he fell into a hole and broke his neck. That’s it.” Nathan went back to his horse and climbed up into his saddle. “Follow me, I know the way. We will get back by the time it’s dark. I doubt we will be welcome for long, and no doubt your father will summon you back to Roika,” he directed that last bit towards Akil. “Are we all on the same page?”

Edrigu and Akil exchanged a look, and nodded. “Good, not get back on your horses and let’s leave this place.” The boys wasted no time in mounting their horses, and Nathan led them off in the direction that he somehow innately knew would lead them back to Adara. As they rode in that direction, the prince held up his hand and gazed upon his ring, a smile creeping across his face, though his eyes still displayed signs of terror. "You did well, child…there shall be more work to be done, all in good time…"
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Ahkad
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Founded: Jul 09, 2017
Ex-Nation

Postby Ahkad » Thu Oct 05, 2017 4:33 pm

The Sebexah's Chapel

Twined gold leaf vines grew in profusion on the walls of the Sebexah’s chapel. The delicate tracery of life was supposedly copied directly from the real vines that Sennacherib had grown in his garden, but Jahan had always doubted this. After all, if Sennacherib had really been growing vines, they probably would have already been gold. At the front of the room, surrounded by a halo of tiny sparkling tendrils his parents stood in deep concentration. At the altar, Parizad, his portly father, and Yasmine his first wife were watching as a Assuric priest practiced the traditional ritual of divination. Parizad’s wide, meaty hand was on the belly of a sedated goat while his wife’s hand were clasped firmly over her gaping mouth. It looks odd, the old politician in his trademark double breasted pinstripe suit and the priest in a conical robe with decorative runes etched in silver thread. Parizad nodded along, attentive to the priest’s every world.

The goat shifted in its drug induced slumber, the echo of hooves on bronze rattling through the empty chapel. A whimper escaped Yasmine and Parizad muttered at her in a low tone that did not reach Jahan. He could not hear the words, but he could tell by the hand that his father lightly laid on her arm that he was not pleased. The muttering intensified as Yasmine began to shake her head, slowly at first and then quickening as Parizad’s brows furrowed. His mustache, a simple trapezoid, was suddenly angled down and his grip tightened. The priest averted his gaze, preferring to observe the gentle breaths of the goat, but Jahan watched with rapt attention. Parizad’s grip shifted and suddenly Yasmine’s gold-braceleted wrist was in Parizad’s hand. He forced her hand down towards the heaving belly until her palm was splayed across it. Once laid so, he released her and nodded at the priest who moved forwards slowly.

In a flurry of purple, Yasmine bolted from the room with her gauzy sari flowing out behind her. Her hands were clasped back over her mouth and, in the split second that her eyes locked with her son, she looked close to tears. For a few moments, her footsteps clattered through the chamber, but they were quickly lost in the even larger halls that connected to the chapel. A few moments of silence followed as Parizad gazed after his wife, perhaps willing her to return, but then he turned back to face the altar. He snapped his fingers twice and motioned for Jahan to join him at the altar. The click echoed around him, once, twice, three times, before it too was lost in the cavernous corridors outside. He rose and shuffled up to the front of the room. The marble changed colors under his feet, alternating in huge diagonals from dark green to a lighter patina color. Somewhere in the back of his mind he knew that the room’s floor was laid out in a diamond pattern, but watching his blue slippers pad across the cold stone he could only see the foot-wide diagonals running under his feet and then disappearing behind a row of pews.

Parizad’s hand was on his shoulder, guiding him towards the bronze altar. The altar was much older than the chapel, pitted and pocked with the signs of time. The basin at its center, where the goat lay sleeping, was burnished and shone with its own light, but the untouched edges of the altar, close to the floor and Jahan’s velvety blue shoes, was black as shadow. Jahan’s shoulders were just a few inches above the top of the altar and the two looming adults seemed much taller than they should have been. Parizad forced Jahan’s shoulders back into a square, erect stance and guided the boy’s hands over to two ropes, each of which was knotted around two of the goat’s feet. He looked up at his father, who nodded sternly with eyes that said stay. Jahan’s eyes drifted back down to the blackness at his toes.

“Adeu al'anbia' almubarakat wasafnuhum.”

With a sudden screech, the priest sprang forwards and opened the belly of the goat in one swift blow. Gore spilled out of the creature and rushed towards him. The slippery organs seemed to multiply as they spilled from the guts of the beast and Jahan jerked his hands up defensively as if he could dam the spreading innards. His hand caught the edge of the receding knife and open a gashed across the back his palm. He had no time to cry out before his father’s arms rushed past him on either side to dive into the still-warm entrails a n the altar. After a moment of searching, the forearms disappeared into the gut of the goat and rooted for a hidden gem. They emerged, dripping with untraceable pieces of flesh, holding a piece of bright red meat that Jahan knew to be the liver. The grey suit’s sleeves were stained with blood.

The king and the priest immediately retreated from the altar, moving swiftly to an adjacent alcove where the haruspex stone was hanging. Jahan’s bloody hands were still fastened firmly to the rope, which began to move suddenly. The goat, sedation now meaningless, was living out its missed throes of pain from beyond death. Its eyes, Jahan suddenly realized, were wide open and its uppermost eye was fixed on him. The eerie flat pupil was alien and terrifying, but he still held to the ropes as they vibrated and yanked in his grasp. The twists gradually relaxed in shudders and the shudders into stillness as Jahan’s eyes locked with the goat’s one visible pupil. It was alive, then dead in a matter of moments. The two men were in a hushed consultation behind him, but his hands still stuck to the ropes, held at shoulder height to avoid letting his hands dip into the entrails. Gravity slowly began to work on his untested muscles, making the ropes grow heavily and filling his arms with a fiery ache. Inch by inch, they dipped closer to the sludge until he could feel the warmth radiating onto his hands. His own blood dripped down off his left hand and added to the horrible mixture in the basin. He squeezed his eyes shut and buried his chin in his chest, avoiding the thought of the terrible carcass.

The smell hit him and his eyes snapped open again, staring down at the blackness. Colors swam before his eyes, but as they cleared splashes of red remained on his blue slippers. His hands dropped into the sludge and the wetness assaulted his fingers, prying them from the rope. He stumbled back, releasing his death grasp on the corpse’s restraints, but managed to keep his balance. Parizad was suddenly kneeling in front of him, staring at Jahan with his intense brown eyes and thick, flat brows. The king searched his face, creasing with concern and maybe even a touch of pride.

“Take a breath of fresh air and then come back” he said, gesturing towards a door.

Jahan wordlessly fled through the looming iron-bound door and found himself on a small veranda, the gilded walls replaced with verdant life and the whisper of wind. He sucked up a huge lungful of the untainted air, but stopped when he sensed the presence of a burning cigarette. Looking for the source of the scent, Jahan saw nothing but hedges and gables and a little fountain that splashed at the base of a short flight of steps. He wandered towards the fountains, whose grey stone and clear water were a welcome relief from bright colors. The fountain was in a small yard with birds chirping in the trees and several goats standing quietly. They nibbled at the lush tendrils of grass, six more Jahan counted. The Assurians and their sevens, he thought to himself aimlessly. He thought about washing his hands in the fountain briefly, but decided he would rather avoid the slit eyed beasts.

Around a hedge, resting next to a tall Hellenic statue of Sennacherib sat his mother. She puffed at a cigarette, staring listlessly into the surrounding bushes. Jahan did not feel like talking, so he dragged out the silence, letting her drag out her smoke. Eventually, her eyes floated over to him, warm, brown, and blessedly circular. She met his eyes, then dropped down to his hands which were still sticky with gut, and finally, let her eyes rest on his bloodied shoes. She beckoned him over and caught up his wounded hand in her own smooth, delicate fingers. Lodging the cigarette firmly between her unadorned lips, she produced a blue handkerchief from a hidden pocket and wrapped his hand in the starchy linen. The cut was superficial and had mostly stopped bleeding, but she insisted that he hold the bandage tight and keep the cut above his heart. She sniffed a little, as though she had recently finished crying, or was about to start anew. She brushed Jahan’s hair from his face, it was stringy with sweat and almost certainly splotches of foreign fluids.

Taking the cigarette from her lips, she stood and murmured something about finding an antiseptic for his cut. Jahan nodded dumbly and she lingered, sharing in his confusion quietly. Then, she vanished again, leaving Jahan with the wind and grass. He could still hear the goats bleating somewhere behind him and a little to the left, but the thought churned his stomach so he tried to block them out, focusing on the gentle throb of his hand and the soft chirp of an unseen bird. After his stomach settled, he rose resolutely and walked slowly back towards the chapel. The priest and his father were waiting on veranda. They glowered out over the garden as if searching for something and Jahan hurried towards them. They stared at him as he approached and, to break the silence, he apologize for taking so long. It was as if they could not hear him, their eyes drifted over him, back towards the fountain. Jahan glanced over his shoulder to see what had dumbfounded to two men who had, just moments before, stoically gutted a goat.

There was absolute carnage.

The six goats were all dead, their throats cut open and then partially gutted. Strewn here and there were bits of red flesh, white and brown fir, and pail entrails. It looked as though one of them had broken his rope and tried to leap away when he saw the death visited upon his brothers; his carcass was two yards from the main heap next to the fountain. Washing briskly in the fountain was a woman, almost unrecognizable as the statuesque noblewoman that Yasmine was. Her sari was dyed red from the waist down and she was industriously scrubbing her equally red arms in the little fountain. The fountain’s clear water was tainted a pinkish brown, but Yasmine’s arms were still blood red. The three men stood quietly, watching her scrub away until, with a scoffing sound, the Assurian priest stormed back into his chapel. Yasmine ignored the sound and scrubbed, a cigarette planted firmly between her lips.
Last edited by Ahkad on Thu Oct 05, 2017 4:50 pm, edited 3 times in total.
Mokranshi was an isolationist, you are a degenerate

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Mutul
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Founded: Oct 08, 2017
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Postby Mutul » Mon Oct 30, 2017 7:56 am

12.17.11.02.18 01 Zac 11 Etznab

Nimal Ban Palace, city of Kalak Muul.


2:10 am.




“It’s a son.”

The K’uhul Ajaw did not turn his face and continued to look through the window the night sky unraveling itself. The reflection of the moonlight on the pool of water in the middle of the room was the only source of light. The servant kept kneeling before his master, waiting for the authorization to do or say more than these three words he just pronounced.

Jasaw Chan K’awiil IV, him, was already somewhere else. A son. His fourth child and his first son. Finally.

“Tell the priests to prepare the sacrifices. One white bull. Three dogs of the highest breed. And as much oil and amber as they see fit. Then you’ll go to the kitchens and tell the cooks that they will prepare double rations of the highest quality for every servants and guards. This is our order”

The servant stood up and bowed. “As your Holiness desire.” He then left the room, never once did the K’uhul Ajaw looked in his direction.

Because the autocrat was still a god. And a god had a certain image to maintain. Jasaw feared that, had he turned to face the servant, his face would have betrayed the emotions twirling inside his head, breaking the credibility of his character. In any other situation, Jasaw would have been perfectly able to hide his feelings, to keep this mask of cold and stern determination he had at all time, but not during these days, when the gods blessed his household with a new sparkle of life. A male life. One of the main duty of a king toward his peoples was now accomplished : there was an heir.

The Divine King left the comforting calm of the Divination Room to return to his wife, his fair lady, Ladan Unahen Mo’. Maybe the only human being who ever knew what truly was inside the K’uhul Ajaw heart. But even before her, and more importantly, before the guards, doctors and infirmaries gathered around the queen’s bed, he had to keep his stone cold figure, his divine appearance.

He took the little child in his arms and judged him. “He’s perfectly normal your Holiness.” Started the obstetrician gynecologist. “No malformation outside or inside, he was born with his hairs, no complications, perfect mass for a size that is a little above average… gods be thanked, the operation couldn’t have gone better.”

Jasaw didn’t nod or react, but he couldn’t have been more relieved. The final knot in his intestines was now gone. At this moment, he was in communion with the infinity of fathers that were and will be. Never was the K’uhul Ajaw closer to the common man. Even his daughters, which he loved dearly, didn’t brought him so many confusing feelings when they came to be.

“Your Holiness… how will we call him ?” Asked timidly the obstetrician.

The K’uhul Ajaw looked at his wife, who was smiling, still tired and sweaty because of the efforts and the energy she had to give. She returned his gaze, with her own sleepy eyes.

“Jasaw Chan K’awiil.” She said, before returning to the contemplation of her son.

The Divine king nodded and returned the child to the arms of her mother. “Fifth of his name.” He whispered in his grave and powerful voice. It was a good choice. In these times of reforms and changes, when even the air seemed tense in the cities, the people will need something to cling on, something that seemed stable and solid. The continuity in the naming scheme was but a first step in this direction.

“Your Holiness.” announced a servant who entered the bedroom and fell to his knee before the K’uhul Ajaw. “The Peers await to see their new Prince.”

“And so they will.” Solemnly proclaimed the king. The queen gave back her child to her husband, even if it was hard to do so, and then the Divine Monarch leaved the bedroom to join the main hall, were all the invited were gathered. There were the ministers, the mayors of the palaces, the members of the Ilok’tab dynasty, cousins, nephew and so on, the governors and their own families, the CEOs of important companies, the generals… every important man and woman of the Mutul was gathered here and kneeled when the K’uhul Ajaw entered the grand hall. And so, among the colorful frescos retelling the story of the Dvine Monarchs of the Mutul and their relations with the gods, In this great display of wealth and power, the K’uhul Ajaw walked to the center of the mass of his subjects, so all could see the newborn child who strangely enough, stayed silent for all the duration of the ordeal.

“The Mutul as a Prince. His name is Jasaw Chan K’awiil, as his father and his grandfather before him. Look and behold !”

And all raised their eyes to the child and the stern figure of his progenitor. Jasaw IV and V. Their kings. Their gods.
Last edited by Mutul on Mon Oct 30, 2017 7:59 am, edited 1 time in total.

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Mutul
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Postby Mutul » Sun Nov 05, 2017 7:02 am

12.18.06.13.08 16 Kayab 05 Lamat.

Nimal Ban Palace, city of Kalak Muul.

2:10 am.





Jasaw Chan K’awiil, fifth of his name, let himself fell on the bench, shaking and moist. He took a slip from his bottle and let himself rest for a bit.

Breathing.

That was one of the first lesson he had to learn. All the different ways to breath. Some helped to restore energy, other helped pushing yourself during an intense situation.

His weapon master stood up before him, arms crossed behind his back. The old trainer was one of the most reputed teacher of close quarter combat in the army, which was why he had been selected to train the now fifteen years old prince.

“It is not over.” Abruptly said the weapon master once he judged his disciple had taken enough rest. The prince nodded, stood up, and joined the middle of the ring again.

He who know how to order, first knew how to obey.

The mind of the prince-heir was filled with such quotes. His father, Jasaw the Elder, took great care in the education of his only male child. He wanted to make a perfect successor and to this end, had taken upon him to teach him from the youngest age everything he knew.

The old teacher and the young prince saluted each other and then fought. It was not a real fight, none of the two would or could hurt the other, but to an untrained eye, it might have well looked like they were both out for blood.

After a few minutes, Jasaw could feel himself unable to react as well as before. As fast as he should. He took a bad hit and was sent to the ground.

“You will break.” the K’uhul Ajaw one day told his son. “You will break many time. You will break again, and again, and again. We will keep on breaking you until the day you will learn when to be straight and when to bend.”

“Get up.” ordered the weapon master in the present. The unsaid comment being that no one else would let him return to the fight this easily.

Jasaw breathed deeply, stood back up, and raised his guard.

Never let his guard down.

The fight resumed, both the master and the disciple now tired. It continued for some time, until the old teacher declared that it was enough.

“You were efficient for one minute longer than last time.” Declared the weapon master. “Next lesson in three days.”

Jasaw thanked his instructor and the two men saluted one another. Then the young prince fell on the bench again, tired. He could barely feel his arms.

“Sir, dinner is ready.” Said one of the servant attached to the young prince. “Then your father wish to see you for your lessons of the afternoon.”

He nodded and followed them until one of the many “private” room used by the royal family to eat in relative peace. Today, Jasaw would eat alone, only to see his mother and sisters tonight, once all of the day work was over.

Today, the meal was very simple : tamales filled with a preparation of turkey meat, vegetables and with a savant dose of spices and chilies to make a flavour worthy of a the future K’uhul Ajaw tongue. After enough fresh water, Jasaw was now fresh and had a bit of time for himself before it was time to meet his father. So he joined the Palace’s library, read for a bit and then followed the servants to the room where his father currently was : the old observation tower.

The servants bowed before the Divine King and leaved without a word. The stern paternal figure stood straight, his back turned toward his son. He couldn’t see the dark eyes of his father, but Jasaw didn’t need that to imagine them coldly scanning the park’s forest and the high skyscrapers of Kalak’Muul that could be seen at the horizon. The water basin in the middle of the room that separated the father and the son reflected the light of the afternoon sun that entered the round room through the translucid dome and the many windows. Each of the window was made of colored glass showing religious scenes : the anthropological representation of the stars and planets dancing, playing, loving or killing each other, but always in colorful ways. Beside them, the support beams had been sculpted in the likeness of the constellations, in this avalanche of geometrical figures from which human, or animals, faces emerged that characterized the old Xoox style. Multiple layers of painting where to give life to these sculptures, like if they were immobile in a sea of metals and plants, or of fire and water, waiting for the day the gods would animate them.

The Observatory was the favorite room of Jasaw Chan K’awiil the Elder, but not of his son.

Without waiting for a sign from his father, Jasaw sat down on the many cushions laid around on the ground around the basin.

“What is the first duty of a ruler ?” Asked his father in his grave voice.

“To sire an heir.”

Jasaw the elder seemed satisfied with the answer of his son and came to sit on the cushions, on the other side of the basin.

“My son. Do you know what exactly is a Chomabel ?” Asked again the K’uhul Ajaw.

Jasaw junior frowned. This was too simple a question. When his father was starting to ask such things, then he had something else in mind.

“The Chomabel are a special variant of priesthood. They are renowned for their ability to register and analyse datas and informations quickly and to use logic and reason to choose the best course of actions. The special state of mind needed for being a Chomabel can be learn, but individuals can be predisposed to it. Massive training, more than 10,000 hours worth of lessons and practices, starting from the age of 5, is required to obtain a Chomabel.

Because of the genetic predisposition one can have to be a Chomabel, Chomabel families exist and tend to marry with each other, so to raise the odds of a child being born with both the genotype and the phenotype seeked. As such, the lineage of each trained Chomabel is recorded, so to favorise the breeding of news, better ones. Of course, programs exist in schools and especially kindergarten to find children with the correct predispositions and to train them, as a way to avoid consanguinity and to keep a balance between the positives and negatives traits and mutations.”


The prince heir raised his head. He couldn’t help but to look down when he was remembering something. An odd habit he had classed somewhere in his mind, along the other odds habits of him. They all could be potential weakness and he will have to study them further later, to know how to get rid of them.

The K’uhul Ajaw nodded, visibly pleased. “You memorize your lessons well. This, all your teachers have told me as much and I’ve never been surprised.”

Once again, Jasaw noted the odd pattern in his father speech. He was going to ask why he wasn't surprised and why he felt the need to precise it but he saw that his father was going to continue. This pause was just a way to let him analyse what’s been said.

“Your grandparents were Chomabel.” Revealed the Divine King.

“This doesn’t show on any record !” Immediately said the Prince heir, immediately regreting this sudden burst. It was a stupid remark.

“On any record you have access too. I’m sorry my son, but you still have a lot to learn about information… and secrecy for that matter. I should tell you that nothing you’ve done was unknown to me. Not even after your little deals you've made around the palace. But this isn’t today’s subject.

It is actually known that your grandmother is a Chomabel and come from a long dynasty of such priests. It was an alliance between us, the royal dynasty, and the Chomabel clergy. The Head Priest of the Mind, their leader, is my cousin. Your first cousin, incidentally.

However, what isn’t known publicly is the secret deal that link us with a minor family of Chomabel. My grandfather, the K’uhul Ajaw at the time, married a lady that was presented as being of “lower birth” but from a great line of soldiers and sportsmen. Of course the records had been falsified and she really was just adopted by said family. But nobody saw any problem with your great-grandfather making sure his sons were stronger than most. But in truth, she still was a Chomabel.

So both of your grandparents already had Chomabel capacities. Your grandfather had been barely trained in their arts by their mother, but it was satisfying. And of course, because this union was public, their child, me, could receive a more open, better training by the best Chomabel teachers. I do believe everyone considered this experiment successful.


And so there you are my child. This is why you have such a good memory. This is why your tutors had to speed through their programs to catch with your progress. And this is why some of them had such strange lessons for you. Memorize, Analyse, Compute, Deduce. The Chomabel way. Of course we couldn’t tell you about what you were really trained for. Because if an apprentice learn the truth too soon, all the program is compromised. The mind must develop itself free from any of its own expectation.”

Jasaw Chan K’awill the young looked down, assembling the informations he received like it the puzzle it was. His father told him many things but hide others. He could sense it. Hide truth with truth.

“What’s mother’s role in all of this ?” He finally asked. The K’uhul Ajaw smiled to his son. A prideful smile. A rare sight on the otherwise always cold and unreadable face of his father.

“Your mother has nothing to do with the Chomabels. She’s from another, unrelated clergy. She’s a Ch’obonels, an Oracle. Daughter of the Head-Oracle even. But that you knew.

But you’re right, she does have a role. A common weakness of the Chomabels is their inability to deal with things that aren’t facts. After too many generations of work, we started to obtain minds that could compute informations quickly and with very few mistakes. But they were unable to deal with human emotions and reactions, or were paralyzed by the many many possibles outcomes they calculated for a given situation and couldn’t give a clear plan or program to follow.

So, in short dose, the Chomabel blood proved to be beneficial to a K’uhul Ajaw and helped us greatly in the past. But you’ve noticed my son, I already show difficulty when it comes to… showing emotions. This is a sign that we need to dilute the blood. To keep it fresh.

We could have just cross with “normal” blood, as a neutral solvent, but your grandfather and myself had something else in mind. You see, the oracles are excellent when it comes to read human's behaviors, emotions, feelings. They have empathy and understanding. They know how to control themselves and how to charm people. This are traits perfect for a leader. So, we allied ourselves with their main family.”

“So it was all just political plays ? Is all of this something to you ?” Said the prince heir, who could feel his hand tremble. Not good. He had to keep control of himself.

“Do not say that.” Immediately cut the K’uhul Ajaw. The speed at which he answered and the little shake in his voice betrayed something more profound. Jasaw calmed himself. He could already feel the truth in his father’s emotions.

“I love your mother.” He continued. “A mistake, but a necessary one. She...as I said, the oracles know how to show empathy and compassion. Something I didn’t knew I needed before I met her.”

The K’uhul Ajaw stood silent for a moment, and his son couldn’t bring himself to shake his father out of his thoughts. He himself didn’t knew what to think yet.

“Sometimes I wonder if she loves me.” The Divine King finally admitted and his heir felt awkward.”Simulated emotions are a blind spot of mine. All I know is that no attempt on my life or on yours came from her. To the contrary.”

Jasaw could observe the weakness of a Chomabel before him. His father was torned between too many conflicting feelings and observations. To dilute the Chomabel blood was indeed needed. “Otherwise I would have been unable to deal with even the most basic court intrigue” he thought.

“Father, why do you reveal all of this to me now ?”
Jasaw said, so to allow his father to get out of his doubts.

“Ah yes.”
The K’uhul Ajaw smiled again. “Because the Chomabel training must be kept secret for the young apprentices, but after a certain age, the lack of knowledges in its own capacities will harm the trainee. You’ve reached a stage of development where you can choose for yourself : do you want to continue the training ?”

Jasaw sat back and thought of it all. He knew that his father’s and grandfather’s had succeeded : they obtain an heir that could compute emotions with but a small price in processing power. But he looked at the man before him and he asked himself if he really wanted to be like him. Even if his mother’s training, he didn’t knew if a Chomabel could ever be happy.

Happiness isn’t the leader’s due. He first thought. It isn’t a factor to take in consideration.

But then another voice in his head, a more subtle one, asked : “Are you really sure he isn’t happy ?”

Jasaw looked again at his father. His profound eyes, his emotionless expression, his cold glares. But he had seen him with his mother, with his sisters. With him. He remembered the awkward smiles, the gestures. And even if his father doubted her love because his mind couldn’t allow him to just forget about any possibility and he couldn’t find any evidence to deny his own fears, because of his own mind construction, and that he could only feel guilty because of that, Jasaw knew that her mother loved his father. She knew how he was, who he was, and loved him because of this and did her best to help him. And his father always took her help. He wasn’t yet so inhumane.

It was something Jasaw had been taught against. A king couldn’t allow himself to be weak. But his father allowed himself to be weak with his wife and his children. And he only became stronger because of that. Because he could rest, and allow himself to be weak sometime, with other peoples who could allow themselves to be weak near him.

In the end Jasaw was certain his father was an happy man. And now the old jealousy every child felt toward his elder grew but changed. Will he be able to share his weakness with his wife and children ? This was an exception, not the rule.

Jasaw then could finally pinpoint the old feelings he beared toward his father. Pity and hate. Not yet fully grown, but seeds planted here by his young mind. He took these seeds, and threw them away. He didn’t had to pity his father. And he shouldn’t hate him because he allowed himself to be weak in his presence. Such was not the death of the paternal figure. It was… it’s growth. Into something else.

The prince heir looked back at his father a third time. He was ready.

“Yes sire. I will continue the training.”

The K’uhul Ajaw smiled. A true smile. “So be it.”




A couple of hours of practice later and the prince-heir left the Observatory to return to his apartments in the palace, leaving Jasaw the Elder alone in the colorful room. Soon, a trap opened on the floor. A secret passage. The K’uhul Ajaw didn’t react, for he knew who was coming now. Lady Unahen Mo’ appeared. She was wearing a simple white robe and her black hairs were tied in a ponytail. Her skin was always as smooth and her smile as true as always.

“Did you followed everything ?” Asked the king to his lady.

“My dear, you Chomabels and your lessons are some of the most tiring and boring stuff I’ve ever had to listen to. So excuse me if I didn’t find the courage to stay down here for two hours.”

The K’uhul Ajaw laughed and the queen came to sit next to him. “So, this is how you want to be seen by your son ? I mean, there’s no turning back but…”

“You know that everything I said is truth. Only truth.”
he smiled to her and couldn’t help but to caress her hairs. “He needed a shock. You know it better than I.”

“Yes the first sign of unrest were here. 15 years already…” she sighed and rested on her husband shoulder, closing her eyes. “20 years since I was first presented to you.”

Jasaw the Elder nodded. “Truth hidden by truth.” he mumbled and they stood here, in the middle of the colored cushions, together, without saying a word. Because they didn’t needed to.

“One day we’ll have to think about finally choosing his wife.” He said, breaking the silence. Unahen Mo’ nodded, already half asleep. “Such a long list, thinking about it already makes me feel tired.”

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Lihnidos
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Founded: Jul 09, 2017
New York Times Democracy

Postby Lihnidos » Tue Nov 21, 2017 5:14 pm

The Imperial Palace
Arcadia, Lihnidos
15 July 1477


“And that, your Majesty, is why I believe you should limit the number of cows that the farmers are permitted to own.”

The courtier stood silently, his proposition over, awaiting a response from the empress. Her forehead was currently in her hand, as it had been since the man had begun talking. “An absurd proposal,” she sighed, raising her head so she could look at the courtier. This was only the fourth person who she permitted to ask a request of her this morning, and she was already wishing she could dismiss the court and return to bed. And she could. But that would be a dereliction of duty in the eyes of many, and she was already on shaky footing.

The empire’s situation had declined under her rule. The prosperity experienced under her mother, the first Empress of Lihnidos, had set the bar high. Too high. Over the past years she had been forced to make unfavorable changes. Increased taxes, stricter laws, and aggression from the west was turning the people against her. “I will not limit the number of cows our farmers are allowed to own just because you’re able to smell the flatulence of some that are on a farm close to your residence when it is breezy.”

“But, your Majesty, I must insis-,“ he tried again.

No. This is the last time I will say it.” She waved her hand at the man who stood before her, dismissing him. With the requests that came to her daily she was beginning to think she ruled a kingdom of buffoons. Perhaps she did. She didn’t often mingle with the commoners.

“You know, something was in the air the other day. It wouldn’t have been from the cows, likely the sewers, but it may be a good idea to do something about it.” Beside her, in a throne only slightly smaller than hers, sat her husband, Andre Delcassé. He was a Vannosian noble that her mother had arranged for her to marry when she was nineteen.

It seemed like the right thing to do at the time. Following independence from the Latin Empire, the three kingdoms of Lihnidos united to form their own empire. An empire that needed allies if it wanted to have any hopes of surviving. As the three kingdoms had risen up in rebellion to fight alongside the Vannosians during the war between the Vannosians and Latins, it seemed like a wise choice to arrange a marriage with a nobleman in an empire that was already in good terms with Lihnidos.

At first, Maria had been hesitant about the arrangement. She was not a fan of an arranged marriage, and, truth be told, already fancied a Lihnidosi nobleman in her mother’s court. On the night that her mother told her of the arranged marriage she had ended up in the man’s bed, certain that he felt the same way towards her as she did him. Alas, it was not meant to be, and she imagined what could have been for many months after her marriage to the Vannosian. Thankfully he was not a complete bore and kept her entertained. He had ended up being an acceptable match.

“I’ll instruct Tolis to put it on my list of things to address,” she whispered back to her husband. If the smell of the sewers was beginning to make its way up to the palace then it certainly needed to be addressed.

Turning from her husband, she glanced at Tolis to her right who was tasked with reading the names of those who would be addressing her. He nodded, taking her glance as a signal to continue. “Your Imperial Majesty, may I present to you Uranos of House Cho-,”

The servant was unable to continue his announcement as the doors to the throne room slammed open. The imperial guardsmen in the room drew their swords at the commotion, ready to give their lives for the empress if need be.

Instead of an apparent threat entering, it was a group of imperial guardsmen, twenty in number. The two guardsmen who had been standing just inside the throne room doors when they burst open slowly sheathed their swords. A mistake on their part that proved fatal. With their guard slightly lowered, they were easy targets. Two men from the group that entered the room lunged at each of the guards by the doors after quickly drawing their own swords. The guards by the door slumped to the floor as each of their lives were ended.

“What is the meaning of this?” the Empress yelled, rising from the throne as her husband drew his sword and the few guardsmen by the throne formed a line between the Empress and the assailants.

A guardsman in the front of the pack, presumably the leader, yelled back. “Your rule has come to an end, Your Majesty. You have failed the empire. We can no longer allow you to undo the progress that your mother made.”

She stood silent for a moment. Could she truly say that she was surprised it had come to this? Unfortunately, she could not. “I love the empire. I have done my best to lead it as my mother did. But, you insist on continuing this treasonous act, you will have to come up here and dethrone me yourselves.”

“With pleasure.” The group of uniformed guardsmen began making their way towards the front of the room. The empress and her loyal guards had the high ground, but the traitors had the numbers.

The fight had not even begun before the empress felt cold, sharp metal against her throat. “I wouldn’t move if I were you,” came a whisper from behind her.

Tolis. That treasonous bastard. The empress stood completely still other than raising her head and pulling it back slightly so that the knife wasn’t pushed against her neck as hard.

“Lay your weapons down or the empress will die!” Tolis shouted, drawing the attention of the rest of the room. Until this point no one had paid him any attention. The guardsmen loyal to the empress looked at each other, unsure of what to do. Eventually their eyes fell on the empress, waiting for her command.

She was conflicted. If she commanded them to fight, they would likely all die. If she told them to lie down their arms they would also likely die. More interested in her own self-preservation, she took the route that gave her a better chance at life. “Do as he says.”

The loyalists threw their swords to the floor. The emperor hesitated, but did as his wife commanded. The traitors took the opportunity to advance to the front of the room, quickly confiscating the swords that were on the floor. The five loyalist guardsman were each pulled to the side of the throne with one traitor watching over them. There was a pause before the leader of the traitors looked to his men. “Kill them.”

The five men were executed, each being killed however their handler desired. The empress watched with cold eyes. Perhaps she had made the wrong decision. Had she allowed them to put up a fight they may have been able to end the miserable existence of some of the traitors. Instead they would suffer no casualties.

The leader of the men took Tolis’s place behind the empress. The feeling of the cold metal disappearing just as quickly as it had appeared. The leader made no attempt to restrain her. She wasn’t surprised. Where would she go? There was no where to run to. She would never make it passed the rest of his men.

“Let it be known to all of you, fail the empire and meet the same fate. This empire was forged with the blood of heroic Lihnidosi men and we will not allow their deaths to be wasted by a failure of an empress such as this one.” The leader turned his attention from the rest of those in the room to the empress as he whispered in her ear. “Your mother would be ashamed of you.”

In a swift motion and without hesitation the imperial guardsman reached from behind and slit her throat. The sharp inhales from the courtiers in the room and the sorrowful screams from her husband were barely audible to her over the sound of her beating heart. In a state of shock, she was unable to resist as the man behind her pushed her forward onto her knees. She clutched at her throat, helpless as the blood wet her hands and ran down her neck to soak the front of her dress.

Beside her, she saw her husband meet the same fate. Unable to break free from those restraining him, he was impaled through the stomach. The pointed end of the sword, now tinted red with his blood, emerged through his lower back. Being the strong and determined man that he was, he was able to remain on his feet as the guardsman who wielded the sword pulled it from his stomach, only to stab him once more slightly above where the first impalement occurred. When the guardsman retracted the sword this time, the emperor-consort was pushed down like his wife. He fell first to his knees, then flat onto his front. His eyes met his wife’s, who like him was now lying prone on the floor. Her hands still clutching at her throat, albeit less desperately now. A puddle of blood slowly forming around her in stark contrast with the otherwise pristine marble floor.

Their eyes remained locked on one another’s. Both full of fear. The fear of death. The emperor-consort watched as the puddle of blood surrounding his wife increased in circumference. The bigger it grew, the less life remained. Much like her eyes, her face shown with fear, but as the seconds drug on, the expression fell from fear to a blank look. Her spluttering stopped, and her eyes became motionless. Empty.

Near the entrance to the hall a courtier made an attempt to disarm one of the guardsman. He was successful for a time, able to swipe the sword from his target and impale him much like the emperor-consort had been. The young guardsman released a painful scream, alerting the rest of the traitors in the room. The courtiers that had been around the now armed man scattered in all directions as three assailants approached. They made short work of him as he proved to be relatively inexperienced in swordsmanship.

With the empress and the emperor-consort now dead, the attention of the conspirators fell upon those left in the room. The leader of the contingent of imperial guardsmen stood silently watching the rest in the room as he stood by the throne. His deliberation on what to do with those left in the room was interrupted as the large double doors at the other end of the hall shuddered. Screaming could be heard on the other side. Loud, angry, yelling of the Imperial Guardsman loyal to the now dead Empress.

“Kill them,” he commanded, gesturing towards the courtiers huddled around the room.

Terrified screams and shouts of objection filled the room as the courtiers were advanced on by the armed men. The pounding on the doors increased in response. The long piece of wood the assailants had put in place that was barring the doors bent as the doors were pushed inward.

***


By the time the doors to the throne room has been beaten down it was far too late for those inside. The empress and emperor-consort laid motionless in pools of their own blood, blood that had begun to drip down the steps that elevated the throne above the rest of the room. The courtiers that had been trapped in the throne room at the time of the small coup were in a similar state. The order given by the imperial guardsman in-charge had been carried out with little difficulty. Many of the courtiers were elderly woman. While some made attempts to defend themselves, many were simply unable to put up any kind of defense against their captors.

Throughout the entire ordeal, only three of the traitors had lost their lives, lowering their numbers from twenty to seventeen when the loyal guardsmen entered the room. Outnumbered almost four to one, the traitors stood little chance in the fighting that followed. Once the fighting had finally come to a close, the room was painted red. The marble floors, pillars, and walls covered in many shades of red. Walking through the room resulted in slight slashing as puddles of blood were disturbed. The smell of death unignorably present spread throughout the entire room and into the connecting rooms and corridors.

In other parts of the palace similar scenes were present. The empress’s son, the crown prince, as well as the rest of her five children, had been slain when found by additional conspirators. The attempt to kill off the empress’s immediate line of succession had been, in all regards, a success. And now, with the late-empress having been an only child, a succession crisis was likely.

News of the massacre reached the citizens of Lihnidos over the following weeks. Many were shocked and saddened by the news, while others were joyful that the rule of Empress Maria II had come to an end. Confusion gripped the courts in the three kingdoms of the empire while the remaining monarchs plotted their next moves. The empress was dead. There was no heir apparent. The throne of the empire sat empty. The actions took in the coming months would shape the nation for generations.

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Mutul
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Postby Mutul » Fri Jun 15, 2018 4:16 am

Extract from the teaching of the B'ah Aj K'in Mai of Sakal Witz, Chankan Chak Imix, the recording of a serie of speech and lessons given by the Holy Man, with a status similar to that of an archbishop in Belisaria, to the masses of pilgrims and disciples gathered in the Green Hall of the Divine House of the Batabob and Bolon Ts'akab.




“There is among the disciples of the Hun Caquix, those who consider human sacrifices to be a disgusting practice. They call it “ritual murder”, and consider it to be an abhorrent display of violence, to be completely amoral. Everywhere they are, and even where they aren’t, they’ve condemned it and tried to outlaw it.

But understand this : this is not a question of “decency” or “violence” for the disciples of the Hun Caquix. They who declare armed pilgrimage, they who announce the Holy Wars, they who try to stamp the gods of this Earth in the name of their lord, they know nothing of the traditions. They don’t even know their own traditions, as like the house of Xibalba, they’re a divided house : Christians against Christians, Muslims against Muslims, Jews against Jews. And then all against each others. And all these people know nothing of each others. Understand this ! Being brothers under the Hun Caquix means to have each other blood not in your veins, but on your hands.

No, all their arguments are mere excuses in their mouths. They do not see their own nature, and they do not know of the Paths. They want all to be one, and don’t see the coherence in the multitude. They don’t even see coherence in their own communities, in their own families, in their own houses.

But this is even more clearer in the way they deal with humanity’s own fallings. Humans are full of failings. Of defects. Of little errors that brings us away from the perfection of the gods. See this ! This here insect that I hold in my hand is closer to perfection than a man can be ! This is the price of the freedom the gods gave us : to move you need space. Being perfect means to have no fault, it means to have nothing. It means you cannot move yourself in your own cracks, because there is none. There is only you, full of yourself. Animals and plants don’t have this problem, they are as they were created. They are they way the gods molded them, through the cataclysms, through the control of their offsprings. But mankind is more than that : because we are not perfect.

However, what does a human wish to do ? He wish to do goods toward his gods : his creators and his lords. He wish to please them. He wish to be closer to them. Yet he can’t. Because he’s not perfect. He will fail. And he will grow to resent these failures, to ask for forgiveness.

And how does one do to ask for forgiveness ? Well, how do you do when you want the woman you truly love to forgive you ? You plea for her to even look at you, you offer her the best gifts you can find, you fall on your knee and offer yourself entirely. Understand this : the true love between a man and a woman is nothing before the true love between mankind and their gods.

This is why you tattoo your body. This is why you pierce and cut your skin. This is why you dance, sing, and cry in the temples. This is why you celebrate the gods : to thank them for the life they gave unto you. To ask them for forgiveness for your failures. This is why you follow the White Path : to learn how to be more pleasant to the gods that protect and nurture you. But even a true pilgrim, one who’s almost reach the end of the White Path will fail, because as long as there’s flesh on his bones, he’s human. And because he’s human, even the greatest of us, master of the masters, will fail. And this is why you burn offerings on the altars of the gods.

But what do the man who doesn’t listen to the gods ? What do we do to the man that lied to his mother ? Stole from his father ? killed his brother ? Raped his sister ? What do we do to the man that thought of himself as a god and, full of himself, thinking of being perfect, commited the gravest of all crimes for nothing ? For what he thought would gain him in the short term, he became an atrocious man, and refused to listen to the gods and his brothers. he listened only to the demons in his hearth, and this is why he will join Xibalba with the rest of the demons.

So, what do we do with the man ? Do we let him be lost forever, in Xibalba ? Will we abandon even the worst of us all to Xibalba ? Of course not. This is why the gods, in their kindness, prepared for this man a second chance. They prepared for him a question : Cuxtal ayel Camel ? Life or Death ?

A man that die on the altar is forgiven. A new life will sprout from the ashes of his past crimes. A soul entirely purified, so he can start anew. A man who readily choose the ultimate sacrifice, the sacrifice of his own self, on the altar, is a man that deserve his pardon in the eyes of the gods. But why would this be a question then ? Why won’t they all choose to be pardoned ? Because like all selfish creature, they have nothing but self-preservation in their mind. Short sighted self preservation. They will protect their body, which they think is everything they have, over their spirit. They will prefer to let their spirit rot in Xibalba rather than for once show bravery. They will choose life. And they will spend a long life in misery, with nothing but their rotting soul, with their rotting body, until there’s no flesh on their bones and they’re no longer human, they’re a rotting soul in Xibalba.

So what do they do, the disciple of Hun Caquix ? What do they do for their own guilt ? What do they do when they’ve hurt the woman they love ? They say “she will forgive me, for she is full of forgiveness” and they do nothing. They return to their room, doing nothing, and still expecting food on their table, because she is “full of forgiveness” and will pardon them, over and over, so they can continue to be little, small, men. They think they are entitled to forgiveness, because that’s “who they are”. They think if you can’t love them for who they are, do you deserve them ? They are full of themselves, they can no longer move, because in their mind, they’ve turned their faults, their mistakes, into qualities. Now in their minds, they are “perfect”. And perfection doesn’t move. So they stay, and they rot away. They rot away until they discover Xibalba, where the false teaching of the Hun Caquix bring them.

So what do they do, when they hear the Question ? What do they do, when the gods ask them : life or death ? They shiver. They turn pale, they flinch. “Oh Hun Caquix ! Why do they attack my perfection ?” he ask. And then he say “Of course I will choose my perfect life ! What an horrible choice !” Their ears are closed, their hearts are walled against all, Hun Caquix did a wonderful job.

And when they see someone who commited all crimes, what do they do ? They kill him. Nothing more. Man justice. “I am entitled to give justice, and I say this man deserve death.” This is how their judges speak. Or worse : they do nothing. “Hun Caquix taught us to preserve the perfection that is all men.” And they refuse to save a soul that could have been saved. Their lips are sealed to the Question. Once again, Hun Caquix did a wonderful job.

Truly, pity the man who worship the Hun Caquix. For he was given the impression of perfection. And now he’s worshiping a false god, a bird upon a cross. “I will save you from all death” say the birds. “For you are perfects” he continue. And they say “Yes, oh Lord, we are your perfect son. We await patiently for your kingdom to come, for your kingdom named Xibalba.”

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Postby Mutul » Sat Sep 29, 2018 2:42 am

Extract from the Public Teaching of the Oracle in Tikal. This speech was given in 2016, and was part of a serie of similar lessons by the Oracle to what will become the core of the Hands of Thunder, laying down the basis of the organization philosophy, notably its ethno-religious and revolutionary nature.




When the Third World was created, the gods gathered all of mankind on the Mountains. In the Caves of the Mountains, Each tribe of mankind received their patrons gods. The K’iche were put under the patronage of Tohil, Awilix, and Jakawitz, and each House of the K’iche received the blessing of one of these gods. The Thirteen Central Cities (Oxlahun Olnalab) and the Central Island (Ayeli Amayeli) were most favored as Chaac directly blessed them with his rule. He came down among them, taking a mortal form, and in the end ruled them as a divine lord. This is why the Mutul is most favoured by Chaac under his many forms and continue to worship him. And this is why Ayeli Amayeli received the blessing of an older and wiser Chaac who came among them and taught them all about the arts of his house : the river and the sea. This old Chaac, one of the Mamlab, they know as the Long Man, and the Long Man gave them bloodlines of divine warriors to protect them, while his wife the Maize Goddess gave them bloodlines of Medecine Men to guide them. They followed the Long Man on his road to the sea, and made their houses with him on the sea.

This is why you, children of the Oxlahun Olnalab and of the Ayeli Amayeli, must worship Chaac, under all of his form. For He taught your ancestors everything they knew, and made turned them into great men beyond our reckoning. Water is his blood, Lightning his weapon, the Sky his house, and the Sea his grave. So I must ask you, why are you not thanking Chaac ? Why does your heart not know him ? Why do you cover your face when it rain, why do you turn away your eyes from the cloud ? Why is your mind closed to Chaac, the father of your father, the teacher of your teachers ?

Here is the Revelation : generations after generations, your lines turned away from Chaac. Gratitude and Love died out, and before the power of the Chaac there was only fear. Fear the Chaac ! For he is terrible ! Thunder is his voice, Lightning his weapon ! The Wise Man fear the gods, and Chaac is mighty among them !

But soon, even fear was forgotten as even if love for Chaac had left, his gifts were still among his people. And they considered them as granted, without remembrance of why they deserved them. And so Chaac took away his gifts from those who forgot him, and his wrath was mighty. And still, they didn’t knew of him.

And then, from the east came a nation of men that knew of no god. They only worshipped a cross and gold dresses. They planted their cross on this island, the island of your ancestors. And claimed it in the name of the cross. They persecuted your ancestors, and many of your ancestors brothers, sisters, parents, and neighbors, were killed by the Men of the East. Those they did not killed, they tied to the Cross they worshipped. “Bow before your new god !” they screamed at them, and fearful they bowed. And what was left of humanity in your ancestors was taken away, as the Men of the East came always more numerous, always more greedy, always more cruel.

You who have nothing, stop bowing before the Cross ! You who look at the ground weeping, look at the Sky ! Do you not see the rain coming ? Do you not hear the thunder ? Your ancestors may have abandoned Chaac, but Chaac has not abandoned you ! A storm is coming, and it will wipe out the cross, it will wipe the slate clean, it will purge this island from all evil, it will restore Ti Ak’bal to what it once was : Amayi Amayeli, the Island of Waters ! The Island of Chaac’s blood ! He cut his heart open for you once, and he will do it again ! You cut your heart open for Him once, even if centuries of oppression and degradation hide it from your memories, will you do it again ? Will the blood of the sky and of the earth be intertwined and unite in a new covenant ? Oh people ! Hear the Divine Words ! Heed the Words of Thunder ! : Yes ! It will ! Here come the New Dawn ! Here come the Storm !

Here come the CHAAC !

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Postby Liothidia » Wed Dec 12, 2018 5:17 pm

YEAR 100
12 August 2018

“A century of Socialism is the cementing of the foundations, it is the ascension of truth and the consolidation of destiny. Socialism must govern the atoms of life for a century, from then on, it shall govern till the end of time” – Heinrich Schrader, First Secretary of the Socialist Workers’ Party, 1919.


Darkness to blurry light – the eyes opened. As the blurriness faded into detail, the bedroom came to life. The birds outside the north-facing window sung with joy, the faint blue paint on the walls, still looking fresh reflected the morning sun ever so gently. The head turning to view the bedside table, the alarm clock jumping frantically as the bell tolled, above it by the door hung the framed portrait of Heinrich Schrader, the Großer Kommissar, the founder of the Liothidian Democratic People’s Republic and the bane of monarchism. The full body length mirror separated the patriotic image of the Founding Commissar, with that of a poster of Frau Souverän, Liothidia’s currently superpower pop-signer, one who draws equal adoration from both sexes.
Image

Rising up from the bed, Lucas Farber yawned, slamming his hand on his alarm clock. Standing to stretch he could hear the rattling of cups and plates out from the kitchen, his mother, Ofelia was awake and rearing to go. Not wasting time he committed himself to his morning ablutions, before dressing himself in the khaki coloured trousers and blue shirt of the Free Socialist Youth, the youth wing of the ruling Socialist Workers’ Party. As he looked in the mirror, the 17 year old took a deep breath as he straightened the red scarf and applied his beret.

“Good morning Lucas” his mother beamed as she poured the tea into his SWP labelled mug.

“Good morning Mother” Lucas replied with a smile, taking his seat at the island table. He looked swiftly to the 55” 4K TV in the living room, his father wiping the last spec of dust off his leather shoe. The TV roared as the opening scenes of Guten Morgen Liothidia beamed across the apartment.

The swirling red and white colours of the scenes were replaced with the smug faces of Dieter Hoeffen and Viktoria Liebknecht, the two morning hosts, household names in their own right.

“Today, the entire Socialist Fatherland heralds the dawn that will mark one hundred years of socialism and success. A century of prosperity, security and glory for the people in wake of our unmatched victory over oppression and tyranny” Hoeffen declared with that signature Cheshire cat smile.

“Mass celebrations, rallies and community events are planned across the entirety of the People’s Republic, with the senior Party leadership attending a rally of the Free Socialist Youth at the Volksports Arena in Rahden this morning” Viktoria took turn, tilting her blonde head.

“Are you excited about today?” Lucas’ father asked as he collected his briefcase and Blühen smartphone, breaking Lucas’ gaze from the sincerely attractive face of Viktoria Liebknecht.
“Er, yes of course father” Lucas laughed to himself.
“I should hope so, Today is an incredible day, truly it is. Some didn’t think we’d make it this far” Ernst Farber, the 50-year-old investment banker and party member half-smiled, looking away into the seemingly distant past when people dared think such things.

“Must you go to work?” Ofelia asked, shaking her head slightly.

“They only offered the day off for manual workers, which is fine by me. They’re the ones keeping the lights on” Ernst smiled back.

“Well, make sure you’re home on time, I’ll be making a special dinner tonight to celebrate the centenary, as we should” she smiled back at him.
“Surprise us!” Ernst waved to both as he headed toward the door, “oh, Lucas, proud of you boy” he shouted, before slamming the door to Ofelia’s annoyance.

“So, how do we deal with you?” she asked her son as he took a bite of toast.

“We go to school, then we’re driven by bus to the Arena” Lucas replied with a mouthful of toast, covering his mouth as his mother looked away in faux disgust.

“Simple as can be then” she smiled, placing her hand on his shoulder, “we’re so proud of you, and a bit jealous” she whispered.

“You’ll see on TV, and hear out on the street surely, we’re all involved today” Lucas attempted to placate his mousey-brown haired mother who rolled her eyes.

“Not the same as what you’ll experience, so many would want what you’ve got on today” she replied as she finished her own tea.

“First Secretary Georg von Carstein is expected to host a special session of the Central Committee this morning before the event at the Volksports Arena, where he will lead the Central Committee in toasting the founding Great Commissars…” the TV muttered.

“Other schools have met the entire Central Committee, plus, we’ll be with 40,000 other people, not that special” Lucas retorted.

“Watch that tone! This is a great chance to hear the First Secretary in the flesh Lucas, don’t be flippant at this moment, you’ll remember this until the day you pass on” she laughed.

“I know, I know” Lucas smiled. He took a swift look at his watch, rushing to his feet with a grin.

“I am off” he laughed, followed by his mother, who stepped next to him, hugging him tight. Releasing him from her maternal embrace, she straightened his scarf and brushed off the crumbs.

“Enjoy yourself and rejoice in our fatherland’s success. The whole world is yours as you grow up in to a fine man, just remember the Party has given you all this” she smiled and waved her hands around their very luxurious apartment in central Rahden. She had previously worked as a midwife, before marrying Ernst, a prominent civil servant at the Ministry of the Economy during the 1980s, before moving into the rapidly expanding and opening privately owned and run financial services, he joined at the right time and his wage-packet proved it. The Farbers, like millions of other middle class Liothidians, they had reaped the benefits of Armin Stahl’s reforms, but also knew full-well who to thank for their new-found opulence. Democracy cravers, they were not.

Lucas kissed his mother farewell and departed the building. As he left the lobby, the street came into view. Left-to-right it was awash with red, banners, bunting and the black-white-red emblemed flag all fluttering in the gentle breeze. As he turned right to head to school, he walked with a spring in his step, as did all he passed.

“Guten Morgen Kamerad” a police officer uttered with a smile as he passed Lucas.

“Guten Morgen Kamerad” Lucas replied, turning his head to follow the officer.

“Guten Morgen junger Kamerad” another passer-by said.

Eventually he reached the gates of the Gabriel Landauer School, beside the 1 August Park. A prestigious school, full of the offspring of the new middle-class and party operators, this was a regime school.
“Guten Morgen Kamerad Farber” a familiar jovial voice beamed from his behind, turning Lucas came into view of his best friend, Max Fuchs, the son of a Rahden City Administration official, another party apparatchik.

“Morning Max” Lucas replied, seemingly tired of greeting every soul he passed.

“Excited?” Max asked placing his arm around Lucas, “yes, you?” Lucas replied with a smile.

“Absolutely! Not everyday you get to see the First Secretary of the Party speak in the flesh, I mean, unless you enter the Assembly, but that’s more your thing” Max laughed.

“Oh yes, I’ll be there in the upper echelons of our great party in no time” Lucas pushed Max away with a grin.

As the two progressed into the school’s auditorium, the exterior walls were plastered with official party posters celebrating Jahr 100. Silhouettes of Schrader’s head smothered the auditorium, while red banners fluttered along its roof.

As they took their seats, the hall boomed with the tune of “Was ist des Socialistche Vaterland”, many students either singing or humming along. Lucas shuffled in his seat as the students took theirs, he was soon seated next to his other friend, Tomas who smiled and back-slapped Max.

“So fucking excited” Tomas laughed.

“Guten Morgen Kameraden Studenten” the principal bellowed from the podium on the stage, which was flooded in red from the immensely coloured backdrop behind him.

“Today is a very special day, not just because we’re all going on the same trip, but because today is our Socialist Fatherland’s one hundredth year of glorious existence. Today is our one hundredth victory over the Hechenreyt tyranny. Today is our hundredth celebration of our ancestor’s success, some of you have some truly incredible family stories of revolution, others can claim direct lineage to those who led the vanguard of the people, others can claim lineage to families who fled their dystopian homelands to live under our great socialist system. Today we all celebrate that” he said.

“Every school like ours teaches you the truth of that great year between 1917 and 1918, when our forebears rose up from their slumber to awaken to the truth that power belongs to the people, this school I hope has succeeded in that, because as you grow into fine men and women, you’ll take up the mantle of socialism and ensuring that our great fatherland is unmatched in all fields and sectors, you’ll be charged with carrying the eternal flame of socialism into the deep years of this century, so that socialism and our fatherland may prosper for another hundred years. So, let’s go and offer our thanks to the Party for its competent and excellent leadership” he said, raising his hands in applause, seemingly to no actual party member, though in truth, for the cameras and bug devices littering his school.

Clambering aboard the buses, the students burst into song of “Wir Kinden der Revolution.” The buses soon departed for the Volksports Arena in northern Rahden, passing through the spotless streets of the Liothidian capital, which was flooded with red. Fully uniformed soldiers walked proudly around with civilians while vast banners crossed above streets bearing the same image of Schrader and the text “Jahr 100.” The capital, like every urban settlement on this day, was alive, warm and red.


After a forty-minute drive, they arrived at the Volksports Arena, where went through thorough security checks and then took their seats by school. Within 90 minutes they were seated alongside 40,000 other students of the Free Socialist Youth. The stadium’s roof was open, allowing in the summer morning breeze, while revealing the cloudless sky, a blessing from the Great Commissars for sure. In the centre of the stadium, where the AstroTurf pitch would have been, stood a circular red coloured stage and a semi-circular podium, eagerly yet stoically awaiting its guest.

“Kameraden, Damen und Herren” the intercom echoed to life.

“Please stand for the national anthem of the Liothidian Democratic People’s Republic” it followed up, giving way to the voluminous shuffle of thousands of young people to their feet.

They waited for a few seconds, which grew into minutes, soon muttering erupted and concern morphed onto faces, then came a bang.

Echoing down below yet ever louder was the sound of marching drums, then emerging from the two tunnels used by football teams came two marching bands of the People’s Revolutionary Army Land Force, their goose-stepping boots slamming down on the turf, their instruments arousing rapturous and deafening cheers from the audience.

From the service tunnel came the marching choir of the 33rd Panzergrenadier Brigade, bellowing from their chests the lyrics of “Vorwärtsarbeiter”, the 40,000 students once again roaring in cheer as they soon gave way to singing themselves. The three columns of uniformed troops goose-stepped around the pitch-side before meeting in synchronous order around the central stage. By the time the anthem had finished, the troops were in position and standing to firm attention, a tail of soldiers leading both sides of a red carpet from another service tunnel to the north-east corner. The audience calmed, their hearts racing.

“Kameraden, Damen und Herren, please welcome our Comrade, First Secretary of the Socialist Workers’ Party and Liothidian Democratic People’s Republic, Georg von Carstein!” the intercom ordered. Once again, the loyal students arose to their feet in roar and cheer, many jumping and waving their arms in utter adoration for a man not many would consider charismatic nor a everyman, someone you could take to the beer hall or fishing, or even to the dentist, but alas, this man was their commissar and he had success behind him.

From Lucas’ point far up in the northern stand, the small figure emerged waving both arms in all directions, as he walked toward his stage, the stadium erupted in a remixed, electronic version of the Stahlgrätzer Marsch, a song that had since become a popular favourite of the Party’s offspring. As he progressed along the carpet, the soldiers saluted and he took up his position. Still waving to his audience and soaking up the acclamation he produced his notes and calmly placed them on the podium, tapping the microphones around him.

As the song faded away, he cleared his throat and the tall, heavily built balding technocrat of a socialist readied to speak.

“Friends, my dear comrades, my future commissars” he said, to ear-splitting roars.

“Today is a day of true celebration but also remembrance. We celebrate our centenary of socialism and of greatness that has been bestowed upon our fatherland by generations passed. Today we are a nation unmatched by any Liothidia before it, in power, in strength, in wealth and in unity!” he said to loud applause.

“That we celebrate, but we also remember those who gave their lives in name of socialism and our fatherland, so that we may enjoy and reap the fruits that our fatherland bares for us today. We remember them always!” he raised a clenched fist, once more absorbing the adoration.

“The road to our century’s end has not been easy, nor has it been kind. But such is the demand of Socialism, that we triumph over every foe, every opponent, every trial and tribulation that the universe may throw and that we have done so with a will unmatched by any nation or people found on this world. First, we triumphed over the Tyranny of the Womb, we overthrew the foulest of clans, we threw them down from their thrones and palaces with a furious rage that sent shockwaves across all nations, in their place we put no dictator, no new king or emperor, but a red flag, one that would constitute all Liothidians, through that flag, we put upon an altar the people themselves” he said.

“We built atop their crumbling and burning temple our great palace of socialism, equality and justice. On top of the ashes of the old world we built a new one, where all were equal before the law and equal in their role in building socialism, in their defeat, we built our monument to our greatest victory in all history” he said to rapturous cheers.

“We ended the Tyranny of the Womb, we ended the Hechenreyt Tyranny in a red tempest, but our victory would not go unnoticed. No! For those around us plotted and schemed, they sought to snuff out our flame and deny their people the standing inspiration for own victories. But we resisted their plots and schemes, we purged our great fatherland of those who would open the door the deceitful enemy and with that erected the great walls of patriotism, revolutionary zeal and zealous loyalty to the cause” he said, to applause.

“Through sacrifice, boldness and conviction we began to build our great socialist fatherland and inevitably, this gave way to war by the enemy. The war, we all know it, we all still feel it today. The war which would see so many Liothidians give their ultimate offering to socialism, did not destroy us, nor did it see our great cause fade away. We resisted, we fought on and fought hard, we fought with a tenacity worthy of mythology itself!” he said to cheers and thumping feet on the stands, “we fought hard for we were alone, alone against the combined forces of predatory capitalist monarchism, alone and we drove them to their knees, that is our power, that is our heritage and that is our banner!” he roared himself.

“On their knees the enemy sought peace and accepted we did, not through acquiescence but through the realisation that only through dark deeds would we succeed in securing victory for all Belisarian workers and peasants, such dark deeds would render our continent a burnt heap and through that comes no victory or revolution, but hatred and division” he said, a tinge of lament in his tone.

“He’s amazing” Lucas muttered to himself.

“We rebuilt our great nation and renewed our focus on building successful socialism and through diligence, openness and pragmatism we reformed in a manner that has turned socialism into the means of elevating all people. Our economy exploded, so too did our people, into great masters of the arts, science, technology and industry, through our talents we built a Liothidia that rivals any and all. Then come our duty to our allies in Ommenlanden, Oseva, Milostia and elsewhere, we took brave action to defend socialism in those countries and to ensure that they too enjoyed the benefits of our great innovations. They said we’d stand alone, today, we never stand alone!” he said to cheers.

“And so today, we herald our centenary, today we herald our greatest milestone. But soon, my generation will hand the mantle of socialism to you, hand you the eternal flame of revolution and the wellbeing of our great fatherland to you. And ready you are, yours is a fine generation, one of brilliance, creativity, conviction and patriotism. Through you, the project toward socialism will continue, the thread woven by our Great Commissars will carry from us to you, as it carried from the previous to us” he said to thumping feet.

“Are you ready?” he asked.

“YES!” the audience roared back in unison.

“Are you ready to carry the torch?” he asked once more, with a smile on his face.

“YES!” Lucas cried, his arms reached out above him.

“YES!” the audience roared once more.

“But remember, you must always be wary of those who would tear you into the world of the exploited, they are lords and duchesses of nothing but hate and envy. They will seek to tear you from Liothidia and our socialist project, they will seek to turn your minds before you assume the mantle, be wary and condemn when they try!” he said, to loud jeers and howls.

“Be wary for your counterparts in those countries are truly exploited, condemned to poverty, irrelevance, silence and marginalisation. Be wary, be ready to confront and be ready to destroy those who would dare rip from the road to socialism, which honours you, protects you and improves you. Do not become the sad bike riding delivery man, do not become the barman or barwoman do not become a cog in the soulless machinery of the so-called gig economy. It will crush you and your genius, your potential shall succumb to atrophy and before you know it, Liothidia finds itself before the Tyranny of the Womb begging for mercy once more!” he said, to further jeers.

“The Party will forever be at your service, it will forever be your guardian, your friend and ally. We will forever work to make your dreams reality, your aspirations successes and your hopes realised. The Party can be trust and the Party welcomes you. Be bold in your aspirations, for the world is at your feet and the world is your stage, for Liothidia shall carry you to the highest peaks and the farthest reaches, trust in the Party and the day shall be seized by all Liothidians!” he said, to standing ovations across the stadium

Lucas, bellowed an adoring roar from his lungs, the Party in him, it could trust…
Last edited by Liothidia on Wed Dec 12, 2018 5:18 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Liothidia
Secretary
 
Posts: 33
Founded: Jul 18, 2017
Ex-Nation

Postby Liothidia » Sat Dec 15, 2018 7:19 pm

YEAR 100
12 August 2018

“Through consensus we achieve the unachievable, through consensus we succeed despite the odds. Through consensus we bring to this world a socialist Liothidia of limitless potential” – Gabriel Landauer, 3rd First Secretary of the Socialist Workers’ Party, 1950..


With a nod and gentle smile, Teresa Fehrenbach received her third cup of coffee from one of her numerous aides, placing the steaming china cup down beside her notes on the lavish mahogany desk that all her predecessors had relied upon for their work. The so-called “Schwarzstein Desk” was previously a prized possession of Crown Prince August-Wilhelm, it was his desk that he worked, oppressed and terrorised the Liothidian proletariat. During the revolution, the Schwarzstein Palace was ransacked by Red Guards and the desk was seized by Reinhardt Kessler, one of the most senior revolutionaries and ultimately the first head of government of the new Liothidia. Since, the lavishly carved and varnished desk has been the workhorse of Kessler’s successors.

Fehrenbach removed her branded reading glasses, to clench the crown of her nose as she took a deep breath. This was perhaps the most important speech of her entire political career, a speech that would herald the LDPR’s hundredth birthday, the speech that would either establish her as the next First Secretary of the Party and State or ensure that her status as the first female First Minister would be it, the culmination and climax of a fifteen-year career. Her brief moment of respite allowed for the sounds of her mighty office to sink in, the ticking of the Friendship Clock, a large intricate geared clock gifted from Fieke Boekhorst, an Ommish revolutionary, to Wilhelm Dittmar, Kessler’s Vice Secretary, the muttering and typing of her aides beyond the double-doors to her office and the muffled sounds of revolutionary songs being played by loudspeakers out on the street.

She owed it to her office to succeed with this speech, but also those outside the government quarter to succeed. This speech would praise the past and herald the future, while still laying down the gauntlet to Liothidia’s rivals who would see it fail. This speech would be revolutionary in the traditional sense, yet patriotic in its optimism. This speech would guarantee her rise.

“Madam, its time” a friendly voice whispered from the door. The sharp-featured Fehrenbach released her nose and looked up, there, leaning in was the young yet thoroughly talented Klara Rathenau.

“Yes, thank you Matti” Teresa smiled, collecting her papers she stood over her desk. Tapping it lightly she stiffened her back and left.

In the car, she looked out of the window, muttering her lines to herself as the motorcade made the slow crawl from the Executive Office to the Heinrich Schrader Auditorium building on the August-Platz in central Rahden. The streets were bedecked with red banners, national flags and plastered with propaganda posters and portraits of Schrader himself. She noted with some deep-seated surprise just how cheerful those she passed looked, none walked without a smile or grin, they greeted one another, they all saluted the passing uniformed soldiers and police and the sun shone ever brightly. Even nature was out to celebrate the Party’s success.

“The First Secretary is addressing the Socialist Youth” a male voice reported from the front of the car.

“I’m sure he’s enjoying himself” Fehrenbach quipped.
Image

“Are you alright madam?” Matti asked as she typed away on her tablet.

“As ready as can be Matti, you think it will go down well?” Fehrenbach asked, revealing a rare sight of her inner emotion.

“Very much so madam” the 28-year old smiled.

“You’re very sweet Matti, which means if it isn’t, you’re sacked” Teresa laughed, Matti replied with a meek laugh herself, knowing that the First Minister isn’t probably lying – such is working with the Ice Queen.

“All the Exalted Members will be present, just confirmed” Matti snapped back from her emails.

“Even Holscher?” Fehrenbach asked, another layer of discomfort resting itself upon her face.

“Yes madam, I guess the hospital made an exception for him” Matti replied, her insides offering a sense of pleasure at her boss’s discomfort – revenge is sweet.

“Rather he bullied his way out of his ward” Fehrenbach sighed. She returned to her notes, scribbling notes beside the lines in a manner of any playwright. She took to rubbing her wedding ring, the best gift her beloved gave her, a warming reminder that she had a soul dedicated to hers, till cancer stole another victim. What she would give for him to be beside her now.

“Two minutes madam” the driver barked.

“Thank you” she replied swiftly, the gut-wrenching nervousness consuming her now. Really there was no need to be nervous, she thought, she’d addressed the Party Congress before, two times prior in fact, they were like putty in her hands most of the time, hanging upon her every word, but this time, it meant so much more.

The car came to a halt before the ornate glass and steel lobby of the Heinrich Schrader Auditorium, a vast structure built for major party functions. The open square before it was a place of great social activity, sun blasted in summer and before the domineering Fernseturm tower. Leaving her car, she was bombarded with camera flashes, offering them waves and smiles, as she marched into the building.

“Welcome madam” a suited party-official extended a hand.

“Thank you Kamerad” she said, nodding and smiling to the rest of the welcoming committee.

“The delegates are seated and await your entry. The People’s Minister for Employment and Social Assistance is just finishing up” the man replied.

“How is Horst Kold’s speech going down?” Fehrenbach enquired with a tinge of spite.

“As damp as you can imagine madam” the Party-official replied with the same tinge, a wink to the well-known mutual dislike between the two.

“Kold’s natural setting at work” Fehrenbach whispered as she began to follow a hostess. She left the lobby for a corridor lined with socialistic murals, depicting labour in the factory on the left-side and farm labour on the right. She reached the end of the corridor, peering through the door-ajar she could spot Kold’s speech, the vast abyssal of a hall, that was packed with 3,500 party delegates. As Kold offered his own adulations to the party and state, the audience applauded as expected.

“No standing ovation?” Matti enquired, leaning through the gap.

“Only the dead give that lump of waste a standing ovation” Fehrenbach spat, securing a laugh out of her chief of staff.

“Best of luck madam” Matti held Teresa’s shaking hand.

“Thank you Matti” Teresa replied with a smile and tightened grip.

“Kameraden, Damen und Herren” the intercom boomed, “please stand and welcome Comrade First Minister, Teresa Fehrenbach.” She took a deep breath and stepped forward. Coming from the stage-side, she lifted her arm in greetings to her audience, who applauded loudly. She noticed Kold awaited her at the podium, they shook hands and waved to the audience together.

“Don’t choke” Kold whispered to her.

“I see you didn’t drop dead, such a shame” she retorted. He released her and took his position behind her on the terraced seats containing the members of the Central Committee of State. She placed her papers before on the podium, sighted the teleprompters and straightened her suit jacket.

She stood at the podium for a few seconds, looking around the chasm before her, the seconds passed slowly, she smiled and nodded as she locked eye-contact with members of the audience, she knew how to get their undivided attention.

“Good morning Comrades, Colleagues, Friends and fellow Party members.

“To say that it is the most humbling and most endearing duty that I have been bestowed, to address you all and the nation on this auspicious day, would be an understatement. Some, in this country and beyond once made an industry for themselves out of predicting or proclaiming the demise of our socialist fatherland. They profited out of a means dedicated to predicting our failure as a nation, party and society. They would say time and time again, that our Liothidia would fail and socialism would collapse, just like it had elsewhere. By us being here today, by me standing her and millions of our comrades across our fatherland celebrating today, we prove them so colossally wrong” she said to applause.

I can do this she thought to herself.

“Last year, I spoke to you all about the government’s plans for the next five years, how we would revolutionise our national economy, how we would provide the services our people, our workers deserve. How we would continue to fuel our country’s unstoppable march to the peerless position that it deserves in the world. I could do so again today, but that would be a waste and failure on my part to recognise the importance of this day.

“Instead, I wish to address to you our future, our future as a party, as a government and as a nation. This country has a role to play in this world, a role that many beyond it would seek ended or denied. Our future is a bright, bold and peerless one. In our great socialist fatherland there exists a potential yet untapped, a potential which unleashed, will secure our socialist endeavour until the end of time. And trust me friends, there are those would do all possible, to ensure that does not happen” she said.

“We have not seen endless successes by being complacent, nor have we reformed to rejuvenate the revolution or our fatherland by being stubborn or blind. We have reaped endless successes because we are competent, we are strong and we are committed to the values inherited from our Great Commissars and our predecessors, we have all succeeded because we always know what must be done” she said to loud applause.

“We are the most fearsome party and political machine in world history, we are the masters of our own destiny and we are the most successful government in human history, not because we are closed-off or ignorant of our people, but because we are open to the people and of the people. We are the most fearsome political machine in human history because we are the polar opposite of the systems beyond our borders, we are so, because we are free of the Tyranny of the Womb and because we are one with the people. While they oppress and demand service of the people, we are in service of the people and raise up the people, we are successful because the people allow us to be” she said to rising members and delegates, who’s applause was most welcome.

“We strive onward, ever faster because we empower and are empowered by the people, those who predicted and continue to predict our failure and downfall are forever wrong in their analysis, because they refuse to accept our mastery of the politic, because they refuse to recognise the terminal decline of their monarchist patrons, it is they who will fail and fall, not us, not this party, not the Liothidian people, the future is ours to seize and we will seize it” she said, as they remained stood, hitting them further with the rhetoric they’ve craved all morning.

“You can trust in the government to deliver on our promised reforms and legislation, we will deliver the reforms needed to continue modernising our economy, to ensure that Liothidia becomes the preeminent hub for technology and products of the 21st century. When companies seek AI, robotics, electronics and computing, they shall look to Liothidia. This is not just meeting the demands of the day or century, but meeting the demands of the future, that we shall seize and do so with confidence” she said, taking a swift sip of water, her nerves were now gone, evaporating with the echoing applause.

“Once complete, our reforms will structure Liothidia appropriately as the true global power of this world, the manufacturing and design superpower, the master of technological advancement, the master of scientific discovery and the ultimate force for global peace, harmony and stability. A country’s who navy patrols the world’s oceans with confidence in mission, the country’s who’s voice brings calm to troubled lands and the fatherly hand that keeps the peace. That is the Liothidia of this century and that is the Liothidia emerging now, unstoppable and peerless.

“Yet, as we do this, as we reform mining, manufacturing, shipbuilding and improving the infrastructure to support our financial services, those who would predict our demise will continue to seek the very same. They will continue to seek to make out of Liothidia, this bogeyman, this existential threat, this force for ill in the world. Yet, through this flawed and destined-to-fail effort, it is they who become the forces of ill in this world. Their efforts have not changed, their intentions the same as they were a hundred years ago. We are all the wiser now, all the more experienced in facing off their plots and with our great nation still rising economically, soon their plots will be impotent as their monarchs.

“These monarchs, these holdouts of antiquity have a word for their common effort against our socialist fatherland… containment. This word is a dirty word because it sounds strong, bold even, yet it belies a fundamental weakness, it has never worked and won’t ever work. You cannot contain the victorious, you cannot contain the successful and you cannot contain the future!” she said loudly, raising a clenched fist to her shoulder height, receiving a rapturous applause in response.

“These impotent, these tyrants and oppressors still do not see the truth before them. All the predictions their academics and intelligence agencies made have been proved wrong, not because we are lucky but because we operate a system impervious to their perfidy, impervious to their dark works, these impotent tombstones cannot comprehend their own flaws, let alone the flaws in their thinking. Our oppressors, our tyrants of the womb were just the same and we all know what happened to them. As time progresses, as our successes rack up further, I am confident that those who seek the light of freedom and liberty will turn on their rotting and declining kings and embrace the future that Liothidia is guaranteeing. We need not plot and scheme ourselves, just allow the power of reality spread word of the success that comes from people power and socialism” she said to applause.

“These fading figures can have their alliances, blocs and defensive agreements, they can seek to contain Liothidia, they can seek out opportunities to break the great alliance of peoples led by our socialist fatherland, but they will fail. They will fail, they will commit crimes and seek war, but they will fail and with each failure, the reality of the emerging new world will become ever clearer. Take pleasure friends, as they feast, as they dance and interbreed, we toil and sweat our way to seizing this century, as they lavish themselves, we build ourselves up. As they worry about heirs and titles, we strive for the enrichment and empowerment of our people and that is what defines our lasting victory over the reactionary and imperialist” she said confidently.

“Be faithful and entrust in our military, the largest, most powerful fighting force in Belisarian history today. Be faithful and entrust in them to protect our socialist fatherland and entrust in them to secure global peace and stability. Because those who seek containment of any, are the ones provoking tension, they are the ones endangering the security of this continent and others. If they cannot guarantee the security of this continent, then it is the duty of our great country to do so. If guaranteeing global security alone is key to seizing the future, then be sure, that our party will be the vanguard of that glorious effort, because in our party, the future is in our hands.

"But may we also be faithful and entrust in our allies and friends. Our comrades in Ommenlanden, Tsurushima, Skaldafen, Nahlia and Milostia stand ever firmly by our side. Our growing ties with the rising powers of Mutul, Kadaria and Concordia will ensure that as the world progresses further into the 21st century, there will be a grouping of nations ready to aid Liothidia in the pursuit of a better world system, one that does respect sovereignty, national rights, cooperation, solidarity and peaceful co-existence. Together, arm in arm, we will structure a world that will benefit the people and not inter-bred families who would see the world in totality become their playground. For them, in Liothidia they can trust. Our nation cares for its allies and friends, in our great nation, they can find a voice of defence and praise and an ally that will ensure their safety when threatened, their interests preserved when preyed upon and their rights protected when questioned by those who would contain all who stand to replace them. Some nations may have cowardly abandoned the cause of socialism, but we do not stand alone.

“While the Dukes, Duchesses and Kings of Nothing still plot and scheme, we remain vigilant and ready. As their patrons of equal irrelevance seek the same, we stand ready. While the people of our socialist fatherland express desires, ambitions and dreams, we strive to make them reality. For a century we have done so, and for another century we shall continue to do so. The roads will be built, the railroads laid, the runways tarmacked, the mines expanded, the factories modernised, the schools improved, the universities ever more funded. We are building a Liothidia worthy of governing the 21st century and we will do so with ever more confidence in our hearts, because we stand united as a party, as a nation and as a movement” she bellowed, the audience rising to their feet.

“To the rotting, decay and hollowed monuments to antiquity, know that we know your game, know that we know your perfidious plots and schemes and desires, know that we know of your maritime endgame, know that we know of your weaknesses and flaws, know that your predictions of our demise were wrong. Know that your days are numbered, the age of monarchism is nearing its end, the golden age of the Tyranny of the Womb is closing, and the age of popular power is rising. We are rising and with it, comes the people, worker and farmer and when we rise, you shall be forgotten and take up your rightful place among the dunes of dust in the history books.

“To Liothidia all I say is this. Do as you do, entrust in the Party as you entrust, be strong as you can and ready yourselves, for you shall become the masters of the 21st century and know that the world will soon be yours! Vorwärts Arbeiter!” She raised her clenched fist high into the air.

“Vorwärts Arbeiter! Vorwärts Arbeiter! Vorwärts Arbeiter!” the audience chanted as they jumped to their feet, their arms pulsating up and down in clenched fists.

Turning behind her, she found the Central Committee on their feet doing the same, all gifting her with nods and grins. She released herself into small tears of joy and relief, keeping her fist aloft.

Perhaps now, she can be confident in being first female First Secretary of the Socialist Workers’ Party and the Liothidian Democratic People’s Republic, only time will tell…
Last edited by Liothidia on Sat Dec 15, 2018 8:07 pm, edited 2 times in total.

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Arthurista
Minister
 
Posts: 2301
Founded: Sep 04, 2012
Left-Leaning College State

Postby Arthurista » Sun Dec 16, 2018 2:57 pm

PART 1 – MILOSTIA SULLIED

Chateau des Faons
Outskirts of Andelgrad
Milostia
9 April 2018


Milostia is beautiful in springtime. After months of harsh boreal winds, bleak snow and landscape of uniformly dull brown-grey, the rolling hills of the countryside is once again blooming with colour, and awash with birdsong. To its cityfolk, this is the time to leave their concrete blocks behind to roam the back country, reconnect with nature. This was the prime time for school trips and family holidays. This was also the time for the country’s undisputed leader, the Supreme Prophet, Slodoban Adanovic, and his court and entourage to quit Andelgrad and spend the next five months in the idylls of his summer residence, the Chateau des Foans.

The Castle of the Fauns was built in the 18th Century by a Prince of Varna in the contemporary Rococo style. It was elegant, rather than bombastic. Refined, rather than sumptuous. Its opulence is incidental to the overall aesthetic scheme of the architecture, rather than an ostentatious end in itself. In other words, it was very well designed, and has long been held up as a landmark in the history of art.

For years, the Chateau had sat uneasily with the fiercely egalitarian ideals of Milostia’s Andelist state ideology. Successive Prophets and Ecclesial Councils had mooted its destruction. After the war of the 1940's, during which it sustained serious damage, it was repaired with the assistance of Liothidian experts, and opened to the world at large as a museum. Here, the good Andelist citizen and their courageous socialist friends abroad could feast their eyes at the decadence of their once soi-disant betters, and learn gratitude for the revolutionary vanguards who liberated the fortunate peoples of the world from their hedonistic tyranny.

History, of course, does not proceed in a straight line, as the simpleminded postulate, progressing in linear fashion from the caves to the stars. History moves in cycles, and all that had happened before would inevitably happen again. For Milostia, its backsliding from its state of grace as a paradise of equals began with the fall of communism in Rhynovia. The withdrawal of support by one of their most important allies led to a significant economic crisis. Perhaps more vitally, it led to a collapse of confidence in their worldview.

As the economy underwent urgent restructuring to cope with the crisis, the Supreme Prophet’s government began to experiment with ‘models of modernisation’. ‘Practical Andelism’, aimed at ‘improving the people’s standard of living, in accordance with the Will of the Deathless Angels’, turned out to be a remarkably innovative form of Andelism. The reforms were so courageous, in fact, that many purists increasingly found less and less distinction between the new model and a free market economy. As the economy became freer, some swiftly became more equal than others. Given the pervasive influence the Andelist Ecclesia has over all aspects of the Milostian nation, it was not difficult to discern which demographic was in the best position to exploit new opportunities.

Soon, the gamekeepers had become poachers. It became apparent to many faithful that those who would safeguard the Land of Grace from Heresy - officially defined as the accumulation of capital for private gain, seemed to be the most inclined to indulge in this vice than any others.

And none symbolised this state of affairs more than the Chateau des Faons. In 2015, the museum was closed to the public, as the Ministry of Tourism announced that it would undergo deep renovations. Upon their completion some four years later, however, it became clear that it would not be reopened. Rather, it had become an annexe of the Foreign Ministry, to be used for hospitality purposes when foreign dignitaries visited. When not so utilised, it would be retained for ‘vital government functions’. In other words, it would become the summer villa of the Supreme Prophet and his court.

If history was to go full circle, it might as well go all the way. Once upon a time, the occupants of the Chateaus des Faons pledged homage to the Audonian Emperor. Once again, it seems, its new resident wishes to reconnect with St Nazaire. Diplomatic overtures were sent, discreet, and often routing through third party intermediaries, to Milostia’s erstwhile overlord. Other envoys, official or unofficial, went to other neighbouring states. Their messages were simple – continued hostility served no useful purpose. Normalisation of inter-state relations was a sensible thing to do. In the long run, greater economic and cultural contacts could be beneficial to everyone concerned.

For one member of the faithful, all this was intolerable. Something had to be done, if the Land of Grace was to retain the favour of the Angels. Unlike most others, however, he had the ability to do something about it.




PART 2 – MARCH OF THE PURIFIER

MNA Base
Outskirts of Andelgrad


“Good morning, Brother General, blessings upon you.”

“And on you as well, Brother Major. How are things?”

“Quite well, all things considered. The troops are willing and eager. We’ve rounded up most of the Ecclesia commissars and they await our disposal in the regimental brig. The helicopters are ready. Embarkation begins in thirty minutes. We will conquer the nest of vipers before lunchtime. By dusk, we will have control of the whole situation. You will soon be able to forthrightly embark upon your sacred mission to cut the cancer of Heresy from our land.”

“Good, I will leave you to your work. The Angels be with you.”

“And with you also, Brother General.”

Major General Marcus Adanovic was rather young for his exalted rank. At the age of 35, he wore his epaulettes with a degree of subtle uneasiness, as if expecting the disapproval of those whose expertise would overshadow his inexperience.

The Major General did not look like a soldier at all. He was a slight man, nearly frail-looking. Bespectacled, with a quiet voice and gentle disposition. As a child, he had wanted to be a doctor, to do the Angels’ work by healing the sick and helping the needy. However, at the age of 15, he accompanied his grandfather on a visit to Rahden for the anniversary of the August Revolution. As he saw the columns of Panzers roared past the podium, in which he was seated as one of the guests of honour, he was inspired to a dramatic change in outlook. Henceforth, he wanted to be a soldier, to defend the socialist peoples of the world from imperialist aggression.

His grandfather, the Supreme Prophet, was only too happy to accommodate his wish. As head of both the state and the Ecclesia, the Prophet had ultimate authority over the armed wings of both institutions. However, whilst the Ecclesia Guard had always been fanatically loyal to the person of the Prophet, the Milostian National Army’s officer corps was professional, apolitical, and aloof. This had historically been a major source of stability. However, with dramatic reforms afoot, the loyalty of all of the Prophets’ men-at-arms was deemed to be political prudent. With that in mind, Marcus was allowed to train to be an army officer. In any case, he had a father and a highly able elder sister who would be able to guide Milostia as Supreme Prophets after the Angels recall his grandfather to their abode, and he was free to pursue his chosen profession.

Marcus was trained at the MNA Academy. He fought as a young captain the 2005 War, during which Milostia invaded and occupied its neighbour Polnitsia and in turn faced the wrath of the international community. As the armies of the Prophet were paralysed by confusion and conflicting orders, and as the coalition's army threatened to cut them off from their homeland, Marcus personally executed the commander in chief of the invasion force and, using his authority as the Supreme Prophet's grandson, and with generals and marshals under his command, he planned and carried out the breakout attempt by the remnants of the defeated army, the only successful ground operation of the MNA during that war.

In the political chaos in the aftermath, Marcus's grandfather died in murky circumstances and Slodoban, Marcus's father, was elevated to the position of Supreme Prophet. Marcus, now a war hero with the highest public profile, was successively sped through the ranks in unseemly haste, until at the age of 35 he found himself in command of the Republican Guards Corps, amongst which was the Guards Airborne Brigade, the most highly trained and professional unit in Milostia’s regular military.

In 2012, Marcus’s sister, heir to the Supreme Prophet’s office, died in an automobile accident. This affected him greatly on a personal level. At the same time, it propelled him directly into the spotlight as her successor as Milostia’s incumbent ruler. Marcus was a private person. He was never groomed for the limelight, nor did he seek it. And yet, all of a sudden, the unexpected demise of the heir to the Prophet propelled him directly into the centre of world attention.

Marcus was happy being a soldier. He never sought fame and glory, and yet when great responsibility was thrust upon him, he took up the burden with grim determination. The core tenet of the army officer was, after all, to do one’s duty, and in the hour of Milostia’s greatest need, he could not refuse.

In response to these events, Marcus delved into his personal faith for support. However, associated with that was a gradual hardening of his attitude towards deviancy from the Andelist religion. As members of the Ecclesia itself became the primary beneficiaries of heresy, Marcus decided to take matters into his own hands.

In his great endeavour, he was aided by three factors.

The first was the perennial mutual hostility between the regular army and the Ecclesia Guard, their main armed rival. A chance to strike back at their hated rival was a particularly tempting prospect.

The second was the invaluable assistance rendered by Oberleutnant Hans von Knobelsdorf, the Liothidian liaison to the regiment. Liothidian intelligence had known about Slodoban’s covert overtures towards west Belisaria for quite some time, and in response was more than happy to assist Marcus in his personal quest. The Oberleutnant had the distinction of being someone completely beyond and above suspicion, and not monitored by the pervasive Ecclesia internal security apparatus. He thus formed the primary communications conduit between Marcus and other commanders of the MNA’s major units, canvassing their support for the project. By and large, he was very successful, and by the time of the operation, Marcus enjoyed the active or tacit support of much of the MNA’s senior unit commanders.

The third factor was the personal qualities of Marcus himself. This short, bespectacled, quiet, self-effacing character seemed at first glance to be an unlikely general, let alone heir to the position of Milostia’s dictator. Nevertheless, he exuded a sort of personal charisma far beyond that one would typically expect, even for someone of his position. Those under his command, officers and men alike, exhibit a fanatical loyalty towards his person. They knew that, whilst he may command them to go to their deaths, he would not do so rashly or unthinkingly, and that he did his utmost to promote their welfare. His troops would go to the Outer Dark to wrestle Choronzon’s demons barehanded for him. Taking on the Prophet himself seemed like an easy task in comparison.

These very paratroopers from the Guards Airborne Brigade marched past where he stood that morning, as they proceeded to board the helicopters which would take them to their destiny. They did so in ordered ranks, singing hymns on the top of their lungs, wholly unconcerned about the prospect of, essentially, embarking upon what amounted to an armed rebellion against the terrestrial manifestation of the Archangel Michael. After all, their commander, the son of the Supreme Prophet himself, had told them that his father had come under the dominion of Choronzon, and lost the mandate of the Deathless Angels. All those with eyes to see could discern that heresy had wormed its way to the very top of both church and state, and he was the instrument of the Angels in purifying the land once again.

As the helicopters took off, the brigade passed the point of no return. What they were about to accomplish was to set a precedent – that no one in Milostia, however exalted, could escape divine justice. Sooner or later, the sword of the Angels would exact divine retribution.




PART 3 – THE FIRE OF THE ANGELS

Things are often only clear in retrospect. In relation to Operation Judgment Day, the 2nd Air Assault Regiment’s attack on Chateaus des Faons, most analysts would agree that the outcome was inevitable. The Prophet’s security detail, drawn from a detachment of the Ecclesia Guards, was more than adequate against infiltrators and assassins. Against a full-scale offensive by a regular military unit, their defence of the chateaus was doomed from the beginning.

That was not to say the entire enterprise was bloodless. Quite to the contrary.

The first inkling the inhabitants of the Chateaus had, that something was seriously wrong, was when their radios, mobile phones and telephone lines stopped working. By the time they were rendered incommunicado, platoon and company-sized units from the 1st and 2nd battalions of the regiment had already landed, and controlled all the approaches to the Chateaus. Within that outer ring, the 3rd Battalion would set up an inner perimeter around the building complex itself. On a chain of hills, Luftsturmpanzer-125’s were landed by heavy-lift helicopters, where they would provide direct fire support to the attacking force. Joining them were forward observers for the batteries of 122mm howitzers and 120mm mortars zeroing in on the chateaus.

The large numbers of unscheduled overflights by army helicopters finally induced in the Ecclesia Guard garrison a sufficient state of alarm to put its personnel on high alert. As soon as they showed signs of activity, however, the attack began in earnest. Two FE-26 attack aircraft roared overhead, drooping a quartet of 250kg bombs onto the chateaus’ roof, whilst artillery and mortar fire bracketed the complex. The paratroopers advanced in skirmish order under the cover of smoke rounds, and every time the defenders attempted to open fire with machine gun posts or 20mm anti-air gun emplacements, they were rapidly suppressed by the light tanks in the hills.

Within thirty minutes of the bombs being dropped, the paratroopers had secured the grounds, and the assault on the main building of the chateus was carried out by a company of Spesnag commandos. Against these highly trained assault troops, armoured with vests containing ballistic plates, the Ecclesia Guard fought on, Spurred on by their fanatical devotion to the Prophet’s person, contesting every corridor and every room with carbines and submachine guns. When the attackers shouted “Death to Heretics!” They would respond with the Ecclesia’s trademark war cry “Blessed are they who fall for the Prophet! The Ascended Ones will lift them up!”

They fought, bravely, futilely, and were cut down in droves. By the time they were wiped out to a man, the chateaus was in flames, all except the west wing, where the Prophet’s private apartments were located, and to this spot the attackers converged.

On their heels was a young man in a general’s uniform, grimly determined, pistol drawn, advancing to his ultimate showdown with destiny.

“Brother general!” He was broken out of his diamond point of concentration by a voice, sounding around a corridor. “Sir!”

He recognised her. Captain Zorana Stefanović, operations officer for the 3rd Battalion.

“Sir, apart from this wing, the main building is on fire in a dozen places. With your permission, sir, I’ll organise the troops to put it out.”

Marcus contemplated the situation for a moment, before turning to her. “That will not be necessary, Sister Captain,” he replied with his trademark brand of superhuman calm, which nevertheless expressed the unshakeable confidence at the core of his being. “We will finish our business here, then leave swiftly. May the flames purge these grounds of corruption, as the fire of the Deathless Angels cleanses the world itself.”




PART 4 - MILOSTIA RESTORED

Five months later


It was no longer spring. After a brilliant summer, the first yellow leaves of autumn had appeared on the hillside around Andelgrad. The past six months had brought drastic change, as Marcus and his supporters consolidated their grip on power. Using the army as his power base, he had himself declared the Supreme Prophet by a reconstituted Eccelsia Council, purged of its corrupt and heretical elements, and renewed by clerics he trusted would never repeat their predecessors.

And if they forget, what he was about to do would teach them a salutary lesson which would make them remember forever more.

As Marcus contemplated the sight before him, that of his father, dressed in the plain attires of a prisoner, tied to a metal chair, on a hillside just beyond the capital city, he thoughts returned to the events which brought him there.

“Take me to the Heresiarch,” he’d said to a commando, as he followed in the wake of the assault troops.

“He is unharmed, Brother General,” said the major leading the commandos, “he was unarmed at the time we captured him. He made no attempts at resistance. By your orders, we have confined him to his room, but otherwise we’d not touched a hair on his head.”

“Good. He will answer for his crimes, but he will do so before the world, in due course. Everything shall take place in their proper time, as the Peter the Harbinger taught us.”

“So say the Angels, Brother General.”

The pair rounded a corner, before going through an open door, made of heavy mahogany wood ornately decorated in the Audonic style. Before them, on a large bed, sat a middle aged man, a pathetic figure, looking positively morose compared to the image he usually projected to the television cameras. The troops had apprehended him whilst he was still in his night clothes, with his terrified mistress besides him.

“Unhand me!” He was saying to his captors, “I am Slodoban, head of the faith, leader of Milostia! How dare you…”

“You are nobody,” said Marcus, as he entered the room, “head of apostasy, and leader of heretics. By the command of the Deathless Angels themselves, the faithful have come to cast you down.”

Confronted with the sight of his son, leading the invasion of his home in person, the last vestiges of command and dignity left the erstwhile Prophet. Unable to come up with a rejoinder, he was meekly led away by the commandos.

Six months of show trials followed, during which the full extent of the decadence and profligacy of the former Prophet and his circle was displayed for the whole nation to see. At the end of the process, there was only one possible sentence.

And so, they arrived at that hillside, on the outskirts of Andelgrad. Him, tied to a metal chair, and on the other side, his son, a television camera, and a crew manning a triple 20mm anti-aircraft mount.

“My son, my son…” he said quietly, sensing an opportunity, perhaps, to mount a last attempt at self-exculpation, “all I wanted to do, was make peoples’ lives better…”

“Your own, maybe,” Marcus’s tone was quiet, as usual, but betrayed no sign of hesitation, or sentiment, or any hint of mercy; “or of a few. The Angels demand that all are to share the bounties of the earth. And for this, you must die. Maybe the Outer Darkness receive you.”

He turned to the gun crew. “Execute the prisoner.”

The three barrels of the weapon roared. A burst of flashes, an eruption of fire. By the time the smoke cleared, the metal chair, and the human form it bore, were no more, scattered across the verdant hillside in a mist of scarlet.

The Supreme Prophet paused for a moment, taking in the spectacle, before facing the television camera recording the scene for posterity.

“The era of Slodoban the Corrupt is over,” he said, making sure that the microphone could catch his every word, “and that of Marcus, Marcus the Purifier, my era, has begun.”
Last edited by Arthurista on Sun Dec 29, 2019 11:59 am, edited 8 times in total.

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Lacus Magni
Diplomat
 
Posts: 774
Founded: Apr 02, 2011
Left-Leaning College State

Postby Lacus Magni » Mon Dec 17, 2018 2:11 pm

“The Duke”
Palatium Supranio
Adrianople, Latium
13 April 1945


Palatium Supranio served as the ancestral home of the Claudii since the fall of their empire and expulsion from the capital nearly one-thousand years ago. The Claudii lived on, carving out a realm of scraps in Adrianople, hardly able to ward off the Muslim invaders from the once faithful lands to the south in Scipia and hardly able to fend off the Gelonians to the north. All the while usurpers abandoned Castellum and claimed Alexandria as the new Imperial capital, and Audonians proclaimed their own empire further to the north. Ever since that day in the 15th century, Dukes, lowly dukes.

Now the thirty-sixth and current Duke of Adrianople, Jason Claudius, sat at the head of a large, red wooden table in the great hall of Palatium Supranio. He was joined in the hall by his closest confidants, allies and, in a few cases, siblings who hung on his very word after the tragic – no, shocking – news of the death of the Emperor and who knows who else. They were all seated around the table, or standing near it, speaking amongst themselves of the demise of Emperor Constantine XIX and his family.

The men quieted for the briefest moment when the Duke seemed as if he was about to speak – yet he remained silent, prompting them to continue. He was an imposing figure, standing tall at nearly six and a half feet, with a face that rarely gave to emotion or even hinted at what he was truly thinking or feeling.

“Cotta’s made sure the entire family was butchered,” Michael Tarpeius, 9th Count of Rutupiae made mention, taking a hefty drink of water. “He’ll be like to come for the nobility once he gets his hands on those girls,” he added, speaking of Emperor Constantine’s two daughters – Diana and Zoe. “We should contact what legates and prefects we know still live and begin organizing a resistance. Which legions are under the…”

“He’d be a damned fool if he goes after the nobility next,” the Lord of Balasa, Flavius Claudius-Sabinius nearly rolled his eyes at the thought of a mad man like Orestes Cotta making a move against his betters.

“The Empress is a lost cause, but the girls were off in the countryside, aye?” said Michael Claudius, the Duke’s younger brother, most trusted advisor, and closest confidant. Michael was four years Jason’s junior, following in his footsteps from the beginning. Whether it be as a military officer, or in state appointments, Michael was never far.

“Pola, was it?” Tarpeius pondered the question of the girls location.

“No, Isca I believe, with the Dowager,” Arsenius Aurelius said before stepping away from the table to pour wine into his glass.

“Not many of Cotta’s loyalists out that way, they’re likely safe for the time being,” Michael nodded, almost with a sigh of relief. “If they have any sense at all, they’ll take flight for their mother’s family in Lyncanestria. Out of Cotta’s reach, barring an outright invasion… Unless they somehow reach their uncle and make west for the Federation.”

“Perhaps, but he appears to have loyalists in places we once thought hard to believe. The reports of ambush at Olympia for one, which as far as our scouts say is happening at this very moment,” Arsenius Aurelius added once more before the Duke started tapping his fingers against the table. All in the room ceased speaking, the only sound being the Duke’s tapping until… silence.

“My son is in Olympia,” the Duke stated matter of factly.

“Your Grace…” Vitruvius said cautiously, pausing before uttering another word as a messenger entered the room and handed a letter to Michael Claudius. “The cadets at Olympia are already better trained, better led, and better men than the peasant rabble in Cotta’s militia.”

“What we need to do,” Tarpeius spoke up, “is gain support from the legions, quickly… no matter what else. Then we march on Alexandria at once. Overwhelm Cotta while he thinks everyone is still cowering in fear — end this once and for all.”

Vitruvius attempted to speak again, “There is —”

“Your Grace,” Vitruvius was interrupted by the Duke’s younger brother, the opened letter in his hand. Upon receiving the letter, Michael approached his elder brother and handed it to him.

The Duke looked over the letter quickly. Then he crushed it in his hand. “Get out. All of you.” A few men acquiesced quickly, promptly making their way to an exit as quickly as commanded. Others took longer, having to rise from their seats that the table, and gather their belongings. Even Michael began to make for the exit, to leave the Duke alone in the room, only for the Duke to say, “Not you.”

Michael paused at the halfway point of the table, placing his hand on it while he waited for the room to clear out. His back faced the Duke, who stood from his seat and approached his brother, coming to a stop just short of him as he leaned back against the table. “You were right,” Michael told his brother. “Is today the real reason behind your censure?”

The Duke snorted. “If you think Cotta could truly make me do anything, then you don’t belong in this room,” he said, referring to an incident nearly two weeks prior where he had refused to yield the floor and ended an enthusiastic speech by threatening the Consul with dismemberment.

“I don’t know,” Michael shook his head, “It seems Cotta has managed to do many things once thought unthinkable.”

Ignoring the heart of Michael’s remarks, Jason continued on. “I forced his hand for a reason, didn’t I? I couldn’t very well just up and leave. It’s the very reason many of these men are here with us today – that the legions the Emperor placed them in command of are with us – and not in some unmarked grave outside of Alexandria. People turned a blind eye to what Cotta was, the Emperor most of all. And don’t you think Constantine didn’t see the man for what he was.”

“Now what?” Michael sighed.

“We rally the legions from Adrianople and fortify our position. Then when the time is –”

“…You mean we do nothing?” Michael shook his head in confusion. “That’s what you mean. By sitting here we let Cotta’s support grow. Christ, even if the Gelonians think…”

“You give the man too much credit,” the Duke smiled, an unnerving prospect to many who knew him well enough. “He’s smart, but not that smart. Too much ideologue in that mind of his, it will be his downfall.”

“And what if the girls’ uncle finds them while we sit on our hands, or they appear in Belfras or Lyncanestria?”

The Duke eyed his brother, who in turn looked to Jason intensely until there was a knock at the door. While Michael’s eyes were drawn to it, the Duke didn’t so much as glance, “Come,” the Duke said. The door opened to reveal a young man with tired eyes dressed in a cadet officer uniform. He looked similar to the Duke, though with bushy eyebrows and short, dark brown hair that was parted to the side.

“Father,” the boy said with a slight bow of his head. “Uncle Michael,” he added with a smile upon finally entering the room.

“Leo, good,” the Duke said at his eldest son’s arrival. He turned away from Michael and made his way back to the head of the table and added, “Michael see to it that the seventh and eleventh legions are mustered. That’s all for now.”

Michael gave his, now seated, brother a nod before leaving the room without a word and patting Leo on the shoulder. “Did you see battle?” the Duke asked Leo, who took a seat just to the right of his father’s position at the head of the table.

“No, sir, Giessae arrived before anything happened,” Leo briefly looked to his lap as Duke Jason looked the boy up and down. “I could hear fighting begin as we were a mile away or so.”

“The man has some uses, it seems,” the Duke said, casually leaning forward to pour himself wine.

“What happened today?” Leo asked, apprehensive.

Drinking as Leo spoke, Jason glared at him until the glass was placed down and he said, “You know very well what happened today.”

Leo looked down at his lap once more and nodded slowly. “All of them?”

“Look at me when you speak,” Jason commanded. “You’re not some meek plebeian. You are a member of the greatest dynasty to walk this earth.”

“Yes, sir,” his son looked up and replied forcefully.

“Not yet anyway. Time will take care of the girls, and any other scattered peoples will suffer the same fate I’m afraid,” Jason explained to his son. “When the time comes, we’ll reclaim what is rightfully ours.”

“You’ll kill them?”

“Whom? Cotta?” the Duke rose and eyebrow, seemingly perplexed by his son’s question. “Without question. I told the man I’d have his hands and tongue removed and nailed to the Senate door if he ever rose so much as a finger to me. I won’t have it be said I’m not a man of my word. Cotta and his rabble will be dispatched quickly.”

“I mean the Princesses.”

“Only God above knows their fate.”

“You don’t believe in God,” Leo snapped back at the Duke, drawing a cross look.

“If you have something to say, say it,” Jason demanded of his son. “Don’t prattle on like a damn woman.”

“Are they alive?” Leo asked his father first, earning an affirmative nod. “Then they weren’t in the capital, which means you can save them, but you won’t, so instead of killing them outright, you let someone else do the dirty work. That’s no different than killing them yourself.”

“Let me ask you this,” Jason leaned forward in his seat, resting an arm on the table in front of him. “The Empress remains alive. The rebels will kill her unless the Princesses reveal themselves and surrender – they’ve said as much. Knowing that, would you have me save the Empress too?” He raised a finger before Leo could respond, adding, “Also knowing that right now, in Alexandria, they have their largest base of operations and would kill her at the first sign of an unallied approach on their position. Have I mentioned she’s likely dead already?”

Leo took a deep breath. “We should still try.”

The Duke snorted a laugh, prompting an irritated look from his son. “You have your mother’s heart, always have. Why do you think we still have these little lessons, Leo? Even still you react on emotion.”

Leo bit his lower lip, and crossed his arms. Jason took his son’s silence to mean the discussion was through. “And here’s what will happen now that you’re away from Olympia. You will follow me to camp and into war councils, you will serve as my personal aide-de-camp, and you will learn. When the war is won, and we have regained what was stolen from us by usurpers, you will be Prince of Youth, and our dynasty will live on for another thousand years. Do you understand me?”

Jason slid his chair back, rising to approach his son, placing a hand on Leo’s shoulder. Leo looked up to Jason and then back down to the table in front of him. Now walking for the door, the Duke said, “Now gather your things, say goodbye to your mother if you like, and meet me in the courtyard. We ride for camp, and then from there –”

“No,” Leo said confidently, cutting Jason off mid-speak, much to both’s surprise. “I won’t stand by and let them die when we can save them.”

“Son,” Jason rolled his eyes, though refused to take a step closer to Leo. “I know that you have a fondness for the elder girl and think her pretty, but she hates you. This is an opportunity for our dynasty that we will not have for centuries again if we do not act to take what is ours. The time is now.”

“I don’t care if she hates me,” Leo violently rose from the chair. “I don’t care about that. But Diana and her sister are innocent; they’re just girls. It isn’t right, and I won’t be a part of your game if this is your evil intent.”

“Evil? Is that what you think I am?” Jason closed in the gap between him and his son, now at about an arm’s length. “A good man does everything in his power to better his family’s position. I am here to defend the Claudii, to defend my blood. Damn those who stand in our way.”

“I’m standing in your way.

“You’re my son!” the Duke shouted at his son, sending a shriek through the old walls of the room, and through its door. “And you will do you duty. I don’t want any further discussion on the matter.” The Duke glared at his son, only to add, “Do you understand me?”

Standing toe-to-toe with Jason, for perhaps the first time, Leo didn’t back down. He looked Jason in the eyes and said, “What if you can get what you want and they don’t have to die?”
Latium — Member of Ajax (Discord)
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Ghant
Minister
 
Posts: 2440
Founded: Feb 11, 2013
Civil Rights Lovefest

Postby Ghant » Fri Jan 18, 2019 12:57 am

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“I think it only makes sense to seek out and identify structures of authority, hierarchy, and domination in every aspect of life, and to challenge them; unless a justification for them can be given, they are illegitimate, and should be dismantled, to increase the scope of human freedom.” ― Noam Chomsky



Dakauregia Palace
Dakar, Dakmoor, Ghant

Summer 1996

She dreamed of trees. Bright boughs and blooms
Through gloom and morning spilled
While she brushed back their silver leaves
That sunlit skies had filled

With gilded wash--the vermeil sight
Above the dusky bark
Seemed starry trains above the moon
And night's enclosing dark

And she stepped under such a sky:
New-formed, bejeweled, and bright
And wished she could forever dwell
Within its dim half-light.

There nothing stirred; no beast or bird
Dwelt in the forest there
Though she heard silent rivers trill
Still wand'ring swift and fair

Through banks embraced by cattail roots;
Through drooping willow leaves
That rustled in the water's rush
Bereft of any breeze.

Oh, she stepped under such a sky
Composed of darkling boughs
Flushed with the swell of morning leaves
All silver-gold endowed

'Till awe forestalled her reaching foot
And stilled the step, half-made--
And oh! to breathe seemed mortal sin
As if each sound betrayed

Whatever heaven she had found.
But when she breathed at last
And put her foot upon the ground
The awful moment passed

And shaded by the gilded leaves
She wandered on, and still
She knew that someday, she shall hear
The birds, all breathless, trill.

The girl was alone, under the midday sun of western Ghant. She was by herself in the royal hunting grounds, enjoying the cool ocean air and the mostly clear sky peppered with a few random clouds. The girl had some friends, but not many. Not this day, anyway. So it was that the girl of eight shuffled along, kicking rocks and studying the intricate patterns of the paved paths of her father’s lands.

She had long raven hair that tumbled halfway down her back, and deep blue eyes within a round unblemished face. Her skin was fair, as was her dress, though the headband holding back her hair, the sash across her waist and her shoes were all purple, like the color of her country of Dakmoor. She was described as sweet, intelligent and outgoing, though not without a hint of mischief.

The royal palace guards were given strict orders to watch the girl at all times, and eluding them was the seven year old’s favorite game. This day she was doing a splendid job, darting among the trees to avoid the overbearing eyes of her father’s men, who undoubtedly would feel his wrath if he found out that she disappeared for even a moment. She didn’t care about whether or not they got in trouble, because they didn’t care if she got in trouble either. It was their job to observe and report, not to be friends with the lonely little princess.

The older the princess grew, the more adventurous she became. Deeper into the woods north of Dakar she would go, until a guard came upon her and brought her back to the palace. She never resisted them, merely returning with them meekly, knowing from a young age that defying her father was a wasted effort. Yet in the trees deep in these woods, she could feel his power wane, as though it was somehow weaker there.

Her little black shoes slipped into the soft, rich soil, permeated by flowers, vines and weeds. Her white stockings suffered the stains of the earth, while even the skirt of her dress occasionally caught upon a loose branch. She avoided a grimace when an unseen branch tried to snag her straight long black hair, shining in the sun. If she made too much noise, they would find her.

It was never a matter of if, but a matter of when they would find her. The men of Dakauregia were faithful servants of their liege lord, and failure was unacceptable. No doubt he would be most displeased to learn that she eluded them, if even for a few minutes. Indeed, he never took such failings out upon his children, but rather on those responsible for them.

There in those woods, the girl was free. Free from prying eyes, from masters and governesses and ladies-in-waiting. She fancied herself a bird capable of flight, like an eagle or a hawk, without a care as to the world around her. The trees and bushes may have clawed at her clothes, but she cared naught for it. There would always be more clothes, but moments of freedom, those were precious and few.

After a few minutes of walking through the woods, the girl came upon a clearing. The light of the sun shined through the gap in the trees, revealing a bright blue patch of sky, the sun directly above. Where the sun shined down upon the clear patch of earth was a lone tree, unlike all the others nearby. This tree was large, with bark as white as bone and leaves the color of blood, desperately reaching for the sky like a multitude of hands. The bone-white tree, like Tantalus, seemed to be just out of reach.

The little girl stepped forward from the woods into the clearing, cautiously approaching the tree. The way it twisted into the air, towering over her, the way its roots poked in and out of the ground like a sea serpent, the way its branches were gnarled, gave the girl fright. Yet in spite of that fear she pressed on, stepping over the exposed roots, walking closer and closer to the white tree.

In a way that the girl could not explain, she could sense the tree calling out to her…to come closer, as close as she could get. When at last she could reach out and touch the trunk of the white tree, she did so, and felt it. In an odd way it felt warm, the bark smooth to the touch. Off in the distance she thought she could hear a voice, carried on the wind, but could not make out what it was saying.

Then she heard another voice, loud and clear. “Sophia,” the voice called out.

Wheeling around, the girl looked to see who the voice was, though she already knew before she saw. It was a woman wearing riding clothes, including a short-skirted dress and white stockings tucked into tall black boots. She had an elegant appearance in spite of that, with a round face containing deep blue eyes like the color of the sea, and long tangled brown hair that tumbled around her shoulders.

“Mother,” Sophia said shyly as she tucked her hands behind her back and looked down at the ground.

“…What are you doing out here all by yourself?” the woman asked her daughter. Sophia was in some ways perhaps, like her mother. Lady Elizabeth Mutu was an adventurous woman, fond of riding and stargazing and being out on the sea. Sophia inherited some of those inclinations, Elizabeth seemed to understand, which may have been why she was the one that found here there, instead of one of the guards.

“…I wanted to be alone,” answered Sophia bashfully. “I wanted to be free.”

Elizabeth flashed a straight, pearly white smile as she walked forward. “Free?” she laughed, “free from what?”

Sophia looked around anxiously, and then replied, “everything.” Her grandfather’s death a few years prior affected her deeply. They were close, and he was a good man and a wise one, though forlorn. After he died she just…wanted to be away from things. Her mother suspected this to be the case.

With a sigh, Elizabeth knelt down so that she could be eye level with her daughter. “I know the feeling. Sometimes, I want to be away from everything too…but there’s a right way and a wrong way to go about that. Going out alone like this isn’t the right way. These woods are dangerous, and you could get hurt. I, and your father, would be very sad if you did.”

Turning around, Sophia faced the tree, though she turned her head around so that she could see her mother. She pointed at the tree and asked, “what about this white tree? Is it dangerous?”

In that moment, Sophia could tell that her mother stumbled over her thoughts, her mouth opening, but the words not coming out. Eventually she managed to answer “it can be…do you know what that tree is?”

Having no clue, the girl shook her head, and shrugged. “A tall old tree with white bark and red leaves.” Upon thinking about it, Sophia began to pity it, for it was the only one like it around, the only white tree. She wondered if a tree could feel…could it feel lonely? Could it yearn? Feel sorrow? This tree was unlike the others…because it made her feel, but what she couldn’t place a finger on.

“It is called a Sakratu tree,” Elizabeth explained as she touched one of the exposed roots. “They are rare trees, and very old. They never die unless they are chopped down, and they are sacred to the Jainkozaharra, who claim that these trees contain spirits.”

“So there are others like this one?” asked Sophia curiously.

Elizabeth nodded her head. “There are many, and more the further north you go. The northerners…they have a legend about these trees, if you care to know.”

In no hurry to head back, Sophia nodded her head and found a spot to sit down on the ground, her mother doing the same in front of her. “In the beginning when the world was young, the Old Gods made the world, some say as a battleground for their war. Their power was imbued within the Sakratu Trees, as a means of creation and control. In the chaos of the early world, the Spirit of the Night and the Maiden of Light produced a child, who ruled the realm of men as the first God-King Under the Stars.”

“…The King Under the Stars, like Grandma’s house,” Sophia observed, pointing out her father’s mother. Isabella Orinbere was a Princess of Gauekoizarra, the kings of which claimed such a mantle.

“They claim a similar title, yes. This first God-King Under the Stars, he and his line swore to protect the trees and uphold the will of the Gods. He lived a long, long time until he eventually ascended into the stars to join the Gods. His son was the next Star King, and his son after him. Each king lived a shorter mortal life than his father that came before him, each reigning for a shorter and more troubled time than the previous king, for wild men and beasts pressed the borders of the kingdom, lesser kings grew proud and rebellious, and the common people gave themselves to sin.”

Now enthralled by her mother’s story, Sophia asked, “What about the Sakratu trees?”

Elizabeth explained that “the Star Kings protected the trees, believing them to hold the power of the Gods that they served. When the seventh king died, his daughter ascended to power as the Star Queen. She was fair and beautiful, with eyes of the deepest shade of blue and hair as long and white as a swan’s wing. Yet she was also wise, and kind, and had all the makings of a good queen. She believed in the strength of love, and with it she preserved the good of all things.”

Unfortunately, Sophia knew enough bedtime stories to know that something bad was about to happen. Elizabeth continued, “her envious younger brother believed in the strength of power, and with it he endeavored to dominate all things. So he cast her down and proclaimed himself the Blood King, for blood was the source of his power. He began a reign of terror and slavery, in which he practiced dark arts and necromancy, took a demon for his bride, feasted on human flesh and cast down the Old Gods to worship a black stone that could cast blood.”

Sophia gasped, and exclaimed “that’s terrible, mama!”

“Aye, that it is, but it is what the northerlings would have you believe,” nodded Elizabeth gravely. “This Blood Betrayal, as it is known in the annals of Ghant, ushered in the Eternal Darkness, with the Maiden of Light turning her back on the world, while the Spirit of the Night came forth to punish the wickedness of man. The Blood King broke the promise to the Gods and desired to gain the power of the trees, but alas he could not gain it no matter how many men he sacrificed to them. Eventually he sacrificed himself and entered the trees, but from the trees he could not return. Light was restored, but the Great Kingdom was not reborn for the restored world was a broken place where every tribe of men went its own way, fearful of all the others, and war, lust, and murder had endured.”

“...the Blood King’s quest for power destroyed him?” asked Sophia with a titled head.

Elizabeth nodded with a sigh. “Aye, it is so. Power, not love, is what most men covet. It has been that way ever since the Blood King. The day the power of love overrules the love of power, the world will know peace as it did so long ago.”

“…but what about the Demon King, mama?” Sophia asked about an old story she once heard from her grandmother, about a Jendebasa sorcerer who ruled Ghant during the Eternal Darkness, as the story went.

“The Demon King emerged some time after the Blood King vanished from the world. Some say they were related, or that the Demon King was a follower of the Blood King, but none know for sure. All that the stories say are that he came after, during the Eternal Darkness, and that he only wanted one thing. Power, and the will to dominate all life in Ghant, by any means necessary. Upon the people he inflicted terror, war and slavery.” Elizabeth’s eyes were blue, and yet when she spoke, Sophia imagined that they became dark, as dark as the words that came forth from her mouth.

Sophia looked around, and besides her mother the wood was silent as a crypt. Not even the trees made any noise, not even the rustling of leaves, as though they too were listening to the story being told. “For it was not the power to do good and right that the Demon King sought, but simply power for its own sake. Not as a means to an end, but as an end onto itself. Yet, power is not an end, for the thirst for power only leads to more power, more and more and more until it consumes you.”

“…Is that what happened to the Blood King?” Sophia asked her mother. “Did he pursue power so fiercely that he was willing to sacrifice himself in order to get the power of the gods?”

The girl’s mother inclined her head, a sorrowful expression upon her face. “Yes, it is so. The Demon King, much like the Blood King, sacrificed a great deal in his pursuit of power, yet in the end, it destroyed him, as a great hero rose to cast him down and end the evil once and for all. This is why we have the Old Laws today, in order to prevent such men from arising ever again. For the Ghantish of old knew the consequences of domination…that being ruin.”

“What about now?” asked the girl. “Could it happen again?”

Sighing, Elizabeth shook her head. “It already has, many, many times since then. The hundred kings in Ghant, all squabbling and fighting so that they could rule over one another. Thousands of years they went round and round like clockwork, their successes fleeting. Their kingdoms like sandcastles, built gradually over time only to finally be eroded when the tide comes. Yet they never learn, and try and try again they do, only to fail all over again.”

In a way Sophia though it sad, almost tragic, that men would seek to spend their lives attempting to control everything around them, instead of simply letting things be. “So why do they keep trying? If they never get what it is they seek?”

“…Why do men do anything that they do?” Elizabeth asked rhetorically. “Because it is their nature to do it. Birds shall try to fly, fish shall try to swim, and frogs shall try to jump. So it is with men…they shall try to seek power, in their own way perhaps. It is what they do with that power that is important. Most do not use it for good…the evil kings of old certainly didn’t.”

“So very bad men, who seek power for its own sake…they could come back.” The prospect of that seemed daunting to Sophia, who couldn’t imagine such men in the world. Yet, her mother believed that they were there, or that they would be.

Elizabeth placed a gentle hand upon her daughter’s head, and stroked the long black strands of hair on her scalp. “It could…it could happen easily. For the tree of life begets other trees both good and foul. A foul tree begets bad fruit, and so it is with men, who you can judge by the fruit that they bear. You will see bad men, and you shall see them yearn for power. Like the hero of old, the choice shall fall upon you to do something about it if you can. Just know that in those days of old, if the great hero did nothing, the world surely would have fallen into darkness and despair.”

Sophia stood up straight and placed a fist over her heart. “I shall be like the great hero of old then,” she exclaimed. “When I see domination, I shall oppose it. When I see those seeking power for power’s sake, I will challenge it, and when I see despair I shall be hope.”

Smiling then, Elizabeth rose to her feet. “Very good, sweetling. I’ve never doubted your heart…it is good. Better than most.” With a wink, she added “I’ll hold you to it.” Elizabeth looked once more at the tree, and then back at her daughter. “They say that the trees always know. That they have senses like you and me…but different. Let’s not linger in this place, sweetling. Let’s go home.”

Offering Sophia her hand, Elizabeth stood in the clearing, the light of the sun upon her brown hair. Sophia smiled and took it, and together they walked off, back in the direction that she came originally. Occasionally she looked over her shoulder to see the tree. It stood there in the clearing, basking in the light, its branches swaying in the breeze. She looked back at it until it was obscured by the forest, though she knew it was still there all alone. Watching, waiting…

Long ago, in a past too grave to tell,
Destruction ruled and chaos reigned,
Hatred prevailed and blood stained,
The ground where once proud kingdoms fell,

Cursed was the fate of selfish men,
Who brought the wrath upon the land,
Destroying all they held dear and,
Bringing all life to a bitter end then,

A single land scarred by the flames of war,
Split by beings who should never have met,
Upon the bloody battlefield, fresh and wet,
With nothing truly worth fighting for,

As did they, their realms did clash,
Time distorted, tainted, torn,
Space demolished, scorched, in mourn,
The light of day clouded by ash,

Ravaged was the land once held dear,
In which the people rose in rage,
Captive, imprisoned, trapped, caged,
By their own foolishness and fear,

Peace was ended by they who screamed,
Of the tortured, of the dying,
Of the abandoned, of the crying,
Of the blind and unredeemed,

All hope lost and nevermore,
A land awaited its fitting end,
Their sins that they could not amend,
Faith and love they would not restore,

A thousand years and little would remain,
Which darkness had not swallowed whole,
And left instead to wretched souls,
The fates weaved a web of pain,

That from which the child was born,
Shocked the thinkers of the age,
Cold, Betrayal, Wrath, Rage,
Death, Sorrow, Pain, Scorn,

Yet the child rose above,
All those that long had brought him harm,
And shoved away all despair with charm,
Taking hate and forming love,

The child first was dreaded by all,
Time and Space for once agreed,
The child was a threat indeed,
And therefore the youth must fall,

Time approached the child first,
Bearing toys and cloth and coin,
Promising gifts should the child join,
The others for long cursed,

The child shook his head to Time’s dismay,
Wanting not the gifts before him,
Yet pointed to another youth grim,
And told Time to give it all away,

Time hissed in angst at his failed plan,
Looking into the child’s eyes,
The child whom he now despised,
Yet sensed no deception from and ran,

Space laughed at Time and took his turn,
He knew for certain how to win,
And so with a sick, sly grin,
He made all that the child cherished burn,

The child wept at this cruel fate,
And it was Space that in disguise,
Approached the child in teary eyes,
And searched the child’s heart for hate,

Inside there was nothing but pain,
The child ached with a heavy heart,
And so Space promised him a new start,
By thieving and scheming for his gain,

'Join me,’ said he, his voice soothing, strong,
‘And unleash your anger upon this earth,
I promise you I’ll make it worth,
The suffering you have nursed so long,’

Yet still the child shook his head,
And said that vengeance he wanted not,
For what good would come if he fought,
Only to increase such dread,

Space spat at him for his goodwill,
Leaving the despairing child behind,
To cry alone, a broken mind,
Left to die on a burning hill,

When Time and Space crossed paths once more,
They looked to each other and then their discord,
Feeling, for the first time, a twinge of remorse,
For the destruction that they had bore,

The child, you see, had touched them both,
Healing what had long been hurt,
They looked to each other, now alert,
And in their regret made a solemn oath,

To heal the world they had destroyed,
And guard that which they once had wrecked,
And that which was once in ruin they would now protect,
Each other, they would avoid,

And the child they had punished so,
For when he had done no wrong,
They gave him life and made him strong,
Repaying the debt long owed,

Just before Time and Space made to disembark,
They looked to each other yet again,
The darkness could not return, so then,
They sought the child out to mark,

The child born of love, not hate,
Was blessed with the power of the two,
Given the choice to make all anew,
And repel the very hands of fate,

The child with his allies would seek out that which they dream,
And together facing evil with courage, heart, and might,
Together they would guard the world of justice and right,
Such is the story of the King Under the Stars, so it would seem.
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Ghant
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Enyama
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Posts: 70
Founded: Jan 10, 2019
Father Knows Best State

Postby Enyama » Sat Jan 26, 2019 1:27 pm

12km NW of Karasuna
Harakoshi State, Enyama
March 2006


A rustle of leaves disturbed the ravens perched in the trees. The twilight had already grown gloomy, and it looked to be a dark night ahead. A dull mist had rolled into the woods earlier in the day, replacing a lively and yellow canopy filled with chirps with one prime for disturbances and moving unseen.

This was the goal of the 1st Shinobi Detachment of the Enyaman Army, which slowly creeped through the damp moss onto their target: the mansion of Enyama’s most powerful drug lord, Hōki Hisato.
The elusive old man had controlled most of the illegal drugs flowing into Enyaman urban centers for the past decade and a half, cultivating an internationally-renowned reputation for ruthlessness and results. As a former member of the Gokudō, he had also managed to buy the silence of the majority of Enyaman politicians.

That time is over, now. Thought Yakumo Toyokuni as he and his team slowly creeped through the underbrush towards their inevitable location. Hōki’s mansion had been on high-alert since President Muratagi’s election the previous December—he, like all of his other criminal compatriots, knew that the Spirit (as President Muratagi was often referred to among the more cynical of his supporters) was bound to devour something, now that he had gained the power that he had been denied again and again. Toyokuni wasn’t a man for dense political thought, and yet even he felt the air of change now. The operation dripped with it—he could see through his team members’ eye slits, and in the way the chopper pilots had seemed all uncharacteristically chirpy and fidgety.

But change always brought an air of uncertainty. They were coming for Hōki now - if he died, it would be the end of an era. But what then? What would come afterwards? Who would the hungry Spirit devour next? Some of the soldiers in his unit—those of Skaldanian stock—were far from excited for this new shift in power, for they supposed that Muratagi’s next target would be those who looked conveniently less Tsurushiman than most.

It couldn’t be helped that all of the Shinobi’s thoughts were focused on the broader new horizon, as opposed to their current mission. Hōki would just be a blip on the radar. As they rounded over a hill, a mansion burst into view, cloaked by weeds and vines and a general placement that gave it the impression of being devoured by nature. Outside of that, the architecture was typically Tsurushiman, with paper walls, old lamps, and layers upon layers of short walls.

And armed guards, of course.

Under his mask, Toyokuni smirked as he heard a distant flutter of rotors approaching. With their newfound power, the Enyaman Army (alongside its comrades in the Internal Troops) had decided to take high-priority law enforcement matters into their own hands. So, in addition to loosing the nations’ most effective special forces group upon the old drug lord, they’d also been provided a Fūjin attack helicopter. Even with all of his resources, intel had figured that the most Hōki could have provided his men would have been assault rifles - not enough to stop what was coming.

As the helicopter ascended quickly in altitude, Toyokuni heard its engine roar as it rounded the hill, immediately revealing itself to the compound’s denizens as it unleashed a flurry of high-velocity missiles, letting loud booms ring through the air. A hushed whisper came from one of the Shinobi:

“Do you think they can hear all of this down in Karasuna, Sensei?” asked Morihei Maro, the second-most-recent recruit to the unit. Though Toyokuni would have usually weighed disciplining the man for speaking so close to the objective and risking discovery, he knew now that it didn’t quite matter if anyone in there could hear them, as they’d likely all be dazed or disintegrated soon enough.

“Undoubtedly. It’s a message to the other criminals that says ‘None of you are safe.’” mused Toyokuni as he staggered to his feet. “Are we ready?” he hushed, while performing a hand motion and brandishing his silenced submachine gun. With confirming nods from the other Shinobi among him, Toyokuni rushed forward to the first wall, hitting the plume of dust that the now-circling helicopter had created. His other men rushed forward just past him, leaving him an opening to rush forward again, just as they’d been trained.

Not one of Hōki’s men had noticed the Shinobi infiltration yet - they were yelling and attempting to return what meager fire they could at the gunship circling over them as if they were already carrion. By the time the group had reached the third wall, which had been uncharacteristically covered by a cavalcade of vines, they’d only shot two guards, and they weren’t looking to be noticed anytime soon.

The mansion was next, though it was already peppered with impact craters from the chopper’s armament. Perhaps Hōki is already dead? thought Toyokuni, irked by the thought of the credit going to the flyboy.

Enyama was used to conflict of all sorts, whether over the matter of politics, narcotics, or ethnicity, but not many in the nation’s history, or in its present, had seen conventional war. Toyokuni, like his other Shinobi, would need all the experience he could get—for fighting well-armed drug lords might as well have been the closest thing to an evenly-matched firefight any of them would ever see, barring the possibility of future war with some other nation.

The shinobi rushed the house, crashing through the flimsy and shrapnel-peppered walls as they searched for Hōki. Many in the house were already dead, and not just guards. Maids, cleaners, chefs, every high-level service that Hōki could have possibly hired, they were all here, and many were dead. Toyokuni winced.

“We’re killing innocents now?” asked a soldier to his left. He shook his head, though truthfully, in his adrenaline-rushed mind, he didn’t quite know how to process it as a sad event. “Casualties of war. And they were working for a criminal, weren’t they?” Toyokuni dismissed the moral concern. This wasn’t the time. “Let’s keep moving!” he shouted, the words ringing hollow through the mansion.

As Toyokuni searched the basement, his ear crackled with the static of a short-wave radio, and he knew what it meant before anyone had even spoken. They were only supposed to break radio silence if they’d found the main target.

“Sensei Yakumo, we found him. Top left room, near the baths. You’ll need to see this. Out.” said the unmistakable voice of Tahara Io, the team’s sole female member and medic. Toyokuni shrugged to himself as he waltzed up the stairs to his target. The girl? Perhaps I should reconsider her. he thought, but not out loud. Enyaman command had been quite adamant about gender equality since Muratagi’s election, a strange prospect for the otherwise traditionally-inclined man. Personally, Toyokuni had his own doubts, simple doubts about endurance. But those were being challenged. Doubt is a cynic’s best friend. he mused on the old saying, as he entered into the room and saw his target laying, half-crushed underneath a support beam and cursing in every discernable way one could use Enyaman.

“We got him,” he radioed in. “Confirm that Tahara did apprehend him - you can speak over comms now.” he muttered as he crouched over the sniveling drug lord.

“You want money? I can give you money, houses - anything you want. Any of you!” cried Hōki as he tried to wiggle himself out of his predicament.

“Really?” asked Toyokuni. “Are you trying to bribe a Shinobi? I was told you were smart, wise even.” he raised his submachine gun up to his shoulder. “Last words, Mr. Hōki?”

Hōki seemed to tense up for a second, and then calm himself. “Look at you, Eijiro’s lap dogs! None of you even know who you’re working for, you know. Ichi mou shuu-o hiku!1 I may be a fool,” he began reciting his death haiku, a common tradition especially among those who loved their history, as Hōki did.

But the old man’s forehead promptly exploded as Toyokuni put a bullet in him. Tahara next to him looked shocked, from the look of the eyes in her mask. “Sensei, you didn’t let him say his poem?”

“It’s the twenty-first century, Tahara. Not the fourteenth. A new era is here, for Enyama, and for us.” he declared loudly as he and his team headed out of the house.
Before long, they exfiltrated back into the forest. Behind them, the gunship lit the mansion up with its cannon, turning it into a fireball before the night was over.

A fireball that everyone in the capital could see.

1 Lit. One blind man leads the crowd. (Translation: A fool always finds one still more foolish to admire him.)
FEED MY WILL TO FEEL THIS MOMENT

IN AJAX:
Enyama | Ostrozava | Gran Aligonia

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Lacus Magni
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Posts: 774
Founded: Apr 02, 2011
Left-Leaning College State

Postby Lacus Magni » Fri May 03, 2019 5:34 pm

“Alaudae”
Leo
Central Latium
15 April 1945


After departing Adrianople with the Seventh and Eighteenth legions, Leo saw his father sparingly since the early hours of the morning throughout their journey. Against the advice of subordinates, Duke Jason marched his armies along main roads and thoroughfares, as some believed to show his defiance against the would-be “republic” or even to show the people that the golden eagles still marked banners throughout Latium. Though against the concerns of others, Leo wasn’t convinced that any harm would come to them as they made for Isca.

Though not involved in any of the discussion, Leo overheard most all of the movements and planning because of his uncle Michael, with whom he shared a jeep. Michael, currently speaking to a scout who ran alongside the slow moving vehicle and said, “Yes, my Lord, nearly two miles out. They’re aware of our position and wish to speak with His Grace.”

“And where are they?” Michael Claudius reached for a map.

“Baebii estate,” he scout said, speaking of course of the estate of Eugenius Baebius – a wealthy non-noble businessman. “They’re loyal to the Empress Dowager, my Lord, they have a checkpoint just west of our position.”

“I suppose we’ll just have to speak with them ourselves,” Michael nodded, giving Leo an elbow. He turned back to the scout and said, “Inform His Grace of these developments. I’ll handle the checkpoint.”

The soldier saluted Michael and disappeared into the moving army. “Why so gloomy, nephew?” Michael said to Leo, the vehicle moving along the road. “We’re blessed with a beautiful spring day, no sign of any of any trouble…or is it your father?” Michael leaned over, looking for any sign of what Leo was thinking. “Let me tell you this about your father, Leo. He is a hard man, there’s no denying that. I might have seen him smile all of two…maybe three times since we were children. But he’s as hard as he has to be, and what more he’s just. Every move, every step he’s ever taken, has been to benefit our family, to the benefit of you.”

Leo kept his focus forward throughout his uncle’s lecture, watching on as their caravan neared the hasty set up checkpoint leading to the Baebius estate. “You truly believe that, uncle?”

“He is my brother,” Michael said. The vehicle came to a stop, and he patted Leo on the back with a jump to the ground saying, “Come now, let’s go see what these men want.”

Leo followed his uncle, jumping to the ground and walking after him, followed by a minor retinue of guards. At the checkpoint, if one could really call it such, stood at least six armed guards, Praetorians, Leo realized as their purple cloaks became more apparent the closer they approached. As the Claudii contingent stopped in front of the men, a rather portly man, with closely cut hair and the attire of a man that seemed out of place among the Praetorians stepped out of a truck and spoke with the guards until Michael and the Claudii stopped at the barricade.

“In the name of His Grace, The Duke of Adrianople, Lord Palatine of the West and Propraetor of Adrianople and it’s adjacent counties, Commander of the Second, Seventh, Eighteenth, and Twin Legions, I hereby order you to remove this barricade at once” Michael spoke up first for the Claudii. “To lay down your arms and allow passage to these lawful legions.”

The Praetorians looked unimpressed by Michael’s announcement, all of whom shared a look with one another before one spoke up, “You have no authority here, Lord Claudius. The legions are under the supreme authority of Her Imperial Majesty.”

“You know as well as I, Sergius, that Alexandra and Ossonoba have no such authority,” Michael quipped with a chuckle. Leo simply rolled his eyes, but he’s not talking about the Dowager Empress.“I would have expected you to be in Ascanium, Lord Calpurnius,” Michael added. “The Emperor is slain, I’m sure you’re aware of that. Yet you, the Deputy Prefect, weren’t there.”

Calpurnius…Sergius Calpurnius, Leo thought in awe at the famed Praetorian that stood in his uncle’s path. “My duty brought me here…to the Empress.”

“Gentlemen,” the portly man spoke with an unimpressive, yet deep voice. “There’s no need for hostilities here and now. We share common enemies.” He looked to Michael and said, “It is His Grace that should lay down his arms and swear his fealty to the Empress Diana. Here and now. You have but one legion, my Lord. Bend the knee, and submit yourself to the Empress’s cause.”

Michael snorted. “My brother has many more legions than the Seventh, and far more loyal to him than you can imagine.”

“One the other side of the country, my Lord. Let us end the charade –”

“His Grace will take all measures required…to protect both his interests, and those of the Empire,” Michael informed the Praetorians and the portly lord.

“Is that a threat?” the Praetorian Sergius snapped.

“I assure you, Sergius, it is no threat. Only the truth,” Michael shook his head. “Remove this barricade, and grant His Grace passage. He only wishes to speak.”

“An audience?” the portly man repeated, earning only a nod of the head from Michael. The portly man looked to the Praetorians, who appeared ready to strike at the Claudii group at a moments notice if need be, until the man added, “His Grace and a small retinue may pass. Lord Calpurius will escort you to your destination.”

Michael bowed his head and turned heal. “Easy as that eh, nephew?” he smiled to Leo as they walked to the jeep and proceeded to give past the barricade. The small retinue continued on down the now dirt road escorted by an even smaller number of Praetorians, perhaps three at most by Leo’s count and a dozen more men-at-arms lacking any identifying insignia or legionary markings.

After travelling a ways into the forested area surrounding the estate, Leo’s vehicle paused. “Why have we stopped?” he looked worriedly at his uncle.

“We’re to wait here for your father.” Michael hopped out of the jeep and moved towards some of the other officers in the retinue. Leo followed his uncle out of the jeep, but instead of following his steps, he leaned against the side of the vehicle, still wearing an Olympia cadet dress uniform – black jacket coming up to the collar and black slacks, of which the latter featured a faint purple stripe down the side. The uniform was tied together with a black belt and a black paludamentum clasped above his right shoulder. On the uniform’s upper sleeve was a patch to match the legionary standard of the the Academy – in this case the numerals “VIII” and the script “Alaudae” written above it to mark the Lark-crested 8th Legion.

The young lord crossed his arms as he leaned against the truck, trying to ignore his surroundings as best he could, and at times try to understand how his uncle and the other men could laugh and make jokes at a time like this. When he glanced away, his eye caught his sleeve and he examined his legion’s marker for a moment. That was until he heard his father’s voice seemingly in the distance. Leo swallowed the lump in his throat and straightened his posture, lest be lectured for something trivial yet again.

When he looked up, his father stood in front of him. Though an imposing figure in all occasions, Leo felt it even more so now, as his father was dressed in his finest uniform. It was white in color, though roughly matching the style of Leo’s with the addition of a fine, crimson paludamentum, and the family’s ancestral sword hanging at his side. Sorgindutako as it was called by Leo’s many times great-grandmother Marina of Dakmoor to whom it first belonged. The current duke often referred to the sword in his native Latin as Incantatus instead of the same name of Ghantish origin.

“Father,” Leo bowed his head out of respect the moment his father stood before him.

The Duke examined Leo, narrowing his eyes on Leo before speaking as he often did. “Be on your best behavior. I don’t want you yelping like one of your sisters once we’re inside,” he stated before walking on towards Michael and a new truck. Out of instinct, Leo knew that meant follow, and so he did into the same vehicle as his father, which led them to their final approach on the reclusive estate.

“Your Grace,” a Praetorian welcomed the Claudii to the estate once they came to a stop in the drive closest to the main entrance of the estate. They were somewhere Leo wasn’t familiar with, as the estate was large, but not in a way that it belonged to a nobleman, as there was a sense of newness to the building. However, Leo had little time to take in his surroundings before being urged out of the vehicle.

“The Empress welcomes you, Your Grace,” the same Praetorian said to the Duke, almost with a sense of flattery. “If you and yours please follow me inside.”

And so the Duke, Michael, a handful of other retainers, and finally Leo followed inside the estate where they were met by again by a Praetorian, though this time an officer. “Your Grace, Her Imperial Majesty, The Dowager Empress has requested to speak with you before your audience with Her Imperial Majesty The Empress.”

The Duke let out an unusually heavy exhale as the man spoke, and seemingly licked his lips. “I am at Her Majesty’s service,” he nodded, though soon after gave a look over his shoulder and added, “Stay put,” he said to Leo before adding to the Praetorian, “My men are tired from the journey, see to it they are properly fed.” Just as quickly as they entered and dispensed with any formality, Leo was left alone in the entranceway as a single guard, not even a Praetorian, watched over him.

Despite his father’s command, Leo wandered into a nearby room, perhaps a library, where he examined a few books on a nearby shelf. He caught one in particular, titled Modern Latin Politics, written by none other than Leo’s grandfather, Theodosius Claudius, Duke of Adrianople. As Leo pulled the book from the shelf, he smiled, that was until he heard a thud come from the next room over. With book in hand, Leo casually walked to the next room and watched a guard and server pick up a tray of tea they spilled on the ground and gather up pieces of the teapot off the floor.

“My Lord,” Leo heard a voice say from behind him. He turned to see the guard set to his watch once they entered. He was young, perhaps eighteen or nineteen – only a few years older than Leo. “Are you looking for something?”

Leo racked his mind quickly for a response, now holding the book behind his back out of the guard’s vision. “Chapel…I was looking for the Chapel.”

The guard nodded and walked towards Leo and then past him, to which Leo followed. “It’s not far, my Lord.” Leo followed the guard through the room where the server was still cleaning up the mess of tea on the floor, and then outside into the courtyard of the estate, where eventually they were upon a minor building detached from the main structure. Once inside, Leo could see the chapel by noticing the stained glass artwork on a door near one Praetorian stood. “Thank you,” Leo told the guard, then walked past the Praetorian who simply raised an eyebrow at the young lord pushing the door open to reveal a very small chapel.

It was a modest chapel, not that Leo expected much else. The room featured two rows of pews, leading to a small altar at the end. Candles were lit inside, recently so it seemed to Leo. But then most oddly of all, he saw a girl. Her hair was the most beautiful blonde he’d ever seen, with a short classic wave look to it, barely touching her shoulders. She was seated in the front most pew, and said no words at first, could it be? he thought.

Leo failed to ease the door shut, causing a loud thud when it finally closed, which in turn brought the girl around to stare at Leo. It is, Leo became nervous as the lump in his throat grew at the sight of Diana. He froze as she turned to face him from the pew, resting her arm across it’s top, allowing Leo to see more of her red floral-patterned dress.

Though her face seemed red, especially around her eyes, Diana rolled her eyes all the same. “I said I want to be alone, how hard is that to understand.”

“I…I uh, forgive me, I didn’t realize anyone was in here,” Leo struggled to say. “I’ll see myself out.”

“Wait,” Diana rose a suspecting eyebrow at Leo before narrowing her eyes, “You. I know you. You’re Leo Claudius.” He nodded as she continued, “Why are you here?”

“My father is here for an audience with you. Um, he’s meeting with the Dowager Empress and your unc– err, I mean the Duke of Ossonoba right now,” Leo said as he finished with a gulp and after a deep breath added, “I’m sorry about what happened to your father…and your mother and brothers.”

Diana stood from the pew – she wasn’t all that tall, perhaps five feet if that, but after all she was a few years younger than Leo. Despite everything she stood tall, and looked to Leo defiantly, hardly once breaking her stare. “My mother isn’t dead,” she said with fire in her voice. “I’m going to save her, no thanks to your father.”

“My father didn’t…he…I’m sorry, I’ll just –,” Leo muttered until his words became inaudible once Diana turned her back. He heard her sniffle, and watched as she brought a hand and wiped a tear from her cheek. Though Leo took a slow step back, Diana sat back down at the pew and without a care that anyone was around, she took her face into her hands and began to weep.

Leo look around the chapel, and without hesitation slowly approached Diana’s pew. He stood silently for what seemed like forever, though in actuality only a matter of seconds, with his right hand rested at the pew’s edge. His eyes turned on Diana, and without a word carefully sat himself next to her. The young Empress didn’t so much as acknowledge his presence at first, until Leo breathed deeply and place an arm around her for comfort. Almost instantly, she turned into Leo and cried into his chest.

No words were spoken, and nothing needed to be said. Until sometime later when a man dressed in a plain black suit entered. “Your Imperial Majesty,” he said, prompting Diana to raise her head and brush the tears from her cheeks. The girl’s breathing fluttered once she stood with near perfect posture. “The Duke of Adrianople has arrived for an audience.”

She nodded silently in affirmation, staring at the chapel’s minor altar all the while. Though Diana still appeared to be gazing forward, she took a look at Leo out of the corner of her eye. She brought her eyes back forward once Leo looked to her. Just as quickly as she turned her eyes away, she turned heel and left the chapel without a word.

Leo took a few more moments to have some silence in the empty chapel. At one point, knelt before the altar and uttered a silent prayer before too leaving and finding his way back to the main house. He still carried the book he lifted from the small library, placing it back where he had found it in the hopes that no one was the wiser. Leo pushed the book back into place with ease, just as he heard a door swing open from the main entryway.

He rushed back into the entryway, just in time to see his father exit the room. The duke glared at Leo with a look of success on his face, which was about a close to a smile as Leo could recall coming from the man. The door of the sitting room was still open, enough to see Diana speaking with her uncle, and who he assumed were other close advisors or family. “You should be very pleased with yourself,” his father patted him on the back as he walked beyond him.

Leo, however, looked into the sitting room to see Diana standing again with perfect posture. The young Empress’s face was as somber as he last saw her look in the chapel. As a guard moved to close the door, drawing Diana’s attention towards it and Leo. She broke a quick, but faint closed-lip smile at Leo just as the door closed.
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Postby Tulura » Sat May 11, 2019 11:55 am

The Past and Modern Chronicles of Tulura

The Coronation





Outskirts of Khasrin, Semarthal Province
Mosque of the Banqaltu Community
Early Evening, Spring 2019


The Mosque was silent in monotonous meditation, with only a faint melody of Amadafaq Marzanni’s ritual tune reverberating off the mud-brick adobe halls. Each room was faintly lit by the glow of the diminishing evening sun, with a gentle hue which kissed the air. Then the faint crash of waves could be heard outside; and if one were to glance over the eastern edge of the mosque, they’d see a cascading staircase of rocky infrastructure walling the Ozerosi waves off. The cool evening air, gave rise to a gentle breeze from the sea which electrified the calm evening atmosphere.

Bunqaltu Mosque was a modest yet elegant temple, constructed from a smooth red mudbrick, it maintained an open complex, built around a central courtyard for varying activities surrounded by four main vernacular dome buildings. At the center of this wide courtyard was a lone square pond with a collection of fish and amphibian life native to it; surrounding the pond was a neatly organized and well-kept garden alongside several walkable paths with benches, smooth and neatly organized in the patterned complex. The sanctum was certainly peaceful and produced a calm environment for many ‘lifae adherent's. At times a few sat in meditation, getting away from the bustling city in calm release. Other’s approached the Almudafaq, Marzanni, Seeress of the Bunqaltu community, for sermon.

This day however was a special occasion, in which hundreds of youths of the ages ten, eleven and twelve, stood before Marzanni upon their knees, surrounding the vibrant pond with her at the center, in it’s shallow waters with bare feet. Marzanni was dressed in old clothes, a colorful dress with blues, greens and purple striped in angular patterns, with beads throughout her long braids, spotted with etches of gray. Over her dress was a dark robe and shawl, ornamented with Tsebo writing and symbols(ጎድ ቾምማንድስ). The large families, typical of Tulurans, looked on with appraisal of their kin. In particular, the Aadhulitu, elder matriarchs of the Tuluran family unit, sat at the front upon stools, admiring the children with a glowing smiles, which eroded the weariness of their years. Everyone dressed uniformly in ritual adorning white and blue robes; the women had a variety of long braids with decorative beads throughout in colors of red, green, blue and purple, tied back into knots or made into long cornrows. Men had short hair of little variety, many with decorative patterns etched into their curls, others sported long hanging and neatly kept coils, or uniform afro’s.

The children were of varying heights and sizes, shifting in youthful anxiety as the ceremony progressed with Marzanni’s seemingly droning sermon. They all wore white ceremonial garbs which slung over their bodies like robes. They all had braids and dreaded hair, hanging well below their shoulders in twining knots, then atop their heads was a large, shaven bald spot which indicated their youth. By the end of the night, their families would shave all their hair off as tradition states and let it grow anew.

Marzanni took an ornate bowl, inscribed with the liturgical script of Tsebo, and dipped it in the waters of the divine pond. She was singing a joyful tune, with a heterophonic melody that reverberated throughout the courtyard. Though she was beyond her years, Marzanni’s voice was an eloquent kiss to the ears. The song was a traditional Tuluran one based upon a poem, singing about the passing of generations and the nostalgic reflections upon childhood.

Change passes through us all
Like the waters of Walaqa which befall this world

Change is like the storm clouds
Constantly shifting in a cycle of motion
Confined to one singular law
The law of change

Thus generations must pass
Thus all must flourish
Thus all must have their time

Gleeful Childhood leaves one
However begets another
For the cycle is destined

Do not weep, in the passing or your childhood
For this is the natural law of Walaqa
Which you are one with, and destined to be with in life


This ritual naming ceremony indicates the next life stage of maturity for most Tulurans, before the crossover into adolescence. When children are born they are given a childhood name by their mothers, called a Naad’ema. The ceremony lets the children announce their real, lifelong names and indicate that they have passed through the first rite of passage, then they are given the names of their family’s matriarchs. The traditions are diverse across the country and Marzanni herself had performed them all; this one in particular was more traditional.

With the tips of her fingers, she splashed the water from the bowl upon the children individually while continuing her melodic tune, moving side to side. Each flinched and wiped away some of the water which had gotten in their eyes, however stood stoically, beholden to the ceremony. She did this three times, before commanding them to step forward. “Now, speak your names.” Marzanni held the bowl to each individual as she passed them. In order, they cupped the water in their hands and splashed it upon their faces. “My name is Aanyisi.” a ten year old girl spoke, with a voiced stride of overconfidence. “My name Gilana.” an eleven year old boy spoke, meekly. “Talk like you have pride, boy.” his father demanded in retribution. Gilana spoke once more, raising his small soft spoken voice with an apparent embarrassment flushing his cheeks. “My name is Neighasu.” a twelve year old boy spoke, raising his chest and lowering his voice in an attempted bout of virility. So on, each named themselves, or announced their newly given names foretold from before.

Each stood tall with a prideful grin upon their faces, then they were met with cheerful hollering and singing from their familial circles. All bounced in jumping excitement, even the elders joined in as best they could. The young family members partook the most enthusiastically. A droning chant soon picked up, as the circle met to touch and hold the children, who had now crossed into a more mature stage of their youth. How Marzanni loved such a ceremony and watching the passing of generations, guiding the young minds of Tulura as the Seeress of her beloved community. An ensemble of kebero drummers, malakat trumpeters, washint flutes and masenqo fiddlers played their instruments enthusiastically to the side, kicking off the after-celebrations with jubilant music. Many joined in clapping and hollering, as the children were being bestowed with new ceremonial garbs to indicate their ascension by close relatives.

Marzanni now had begun leading the hundreds of ‘lifae around the pool of water, as they circled it rhythmically to the music. Many took on a traditional dance, stopping, then facing the pool and performing a hop every eighth beat. This sacred dance was only performed at youth coronation ceremonies, but many smiled and laughed nevertheless, in joy and relief. As the night closed, many families had left after further social festivites; adults talked over beer and coffee, while the children played and socialized in their own ways. Thus, Marzanni had begun to see many families off. She was filled with delight, as she knew her time was passing, but the cycle would continue. Her legacy would live vicariously through the passing of generations. The notion of everyone’s lasting impact, steeped in such strong belief, brought tears every passing ceremony to her eyes. She did not weep for the passing for her own life, for she had fanatic belief in oneness with her god.
Last edited by Tulura on Sat May 11, 2019 12:03 pm, edited 2 times in total.

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Postby Leasath » Wed Jun 26, 2019 4:38 pm

“On A Street of Gold”
Kayakova Prospekt, Zolodolina, Seredinia
24 December 1878


“Come now, Nikolay Nikitovich,” a high, clear voice called out into the snowy darkness of Kayakova Prospekt. It was a happy voice, bright and amused, and it belonged to one Countess Svetlana Sergeyevna Nuriyeva. Currently, she was spinning in the light snowfall on Zolodolina’s widest boulevard, giggling as the heavy coat her mother had forced upon her whirled.

A deeper, though no less amused, voice responded after a few beats. “I think it is you that is falling behind, Svetyushka,” it muttered, “soon enough you may become a snow angel.”

Svetlana suddenly stopped spinning, a smile on her lips. “Are you implying that I am not already a snow angel, Nikolay Nikitovich?” Her hands were held out askew, head cocked and long blonde hair flowing down one side.

A third voice piped up, with a laugh. “I think Kolya is rather put out at your formality, little sister,” it said, and the tall man from which it emanated stepped forward, taking Svetlana’s arm gently. “Come now, we’ll never make it to mass if you keep teasing poor Kolyushka. Mother and father would not be especially forgiving if the four of us missed out for no good reason.”

Svetlana huffed, shaking her brother’s hand away to take the arm of another girl present. “You needn’t worry so much, Yuriy. We’ve plenty of time, and Anushka and I are enjoying the snowfall. Aren’t we, Anushka?” Svetlana, leaning her head now on the slightly taller girl’s shoulder, tugged her forward. The group moved on, the two young girls in front, Nikolay and Yuriy behind.

“I think Nikolay Nikitovich is rather concerned,” Anushka, better known as Princess Anna Timurovna Pyryeva, murmured after a few more moments of walking.

Svetlana sighed, her head still leaning on her friend’s shoulder. “Why should Kolya be concerned, my darling? Yuriy was only joking.”

Anna laughed lightly, conscious of her cousin just behind her, and Svetlana’s brother besides. “I think he thinks that you think he isn’t sure you’re an angel sent straight from Heaven, Svetyushka,” the elder girl whispered, giggling. “He’s always in a fuss about you, what you think of him and what you tell me about him.”

Svetlana, giggling herself, bumped Anna with her hip before replying. “Of course he is, poor Kolenka,” she whispered through her tinkling laugh, before shaking her head. “In fact, I think he is the most sure that I’m an angel sent straight from Heaven, no matter whether I am or not.” She broke away from Anna at this, spinning back out into the pavement before them.

All around, groups of men and women, young and old, noble and common, made their way to their respective church or other establishment to celebrate midnight mass. While only the most finely dressed of them were likely headed to the same place as the young Count, Prince, and their charges, it seemed half the city was here marching towards their place of worship. With the trams -- both horse-drawn and otherwise -- down for the next two days, it may even be true.

“Nikolasha,” Svetlana said after a moment, eyes on the Prince and flitting towards both her friend and her elder brother. “Dance with me a moment, I think I can hear music you know.”

Nikolay huffed, smiling at Yuriy and stepping to Svetlana, taking her hand. They danced in the street for a moment, people passing them by, watched by Yuriy and Anna and perhaps a passer-by. The music Svetlana thought she heard turned out to be real, it would seem; it was getting louder, and the strain of instruments could be heard over the cry of words still indecipherable.

Anna had sidled up to Yuriy, taking his arm as they watched their relatives dance. “I wonder what they’re singing, Yuriy Sergeyevich,” she muttered, warming slightly from his bulk. She shuddered when he huffed a laugh, swayed a little when he shook his head; he was really a massive man, if not in width then certainly in density.

“Most likely, the little drummer boy or some such other holiday song,” he murmured, though now he cocked his head, straining for the words. “Though, I would dance if it was Kalinka...”

Anna now strained to hear, too. “Let us hope it is Kalinka, then, Yuriy Sergeyevich,” she hummed, tightening her grip on his warm arm.

They waited a few moments more; it was just past a quarter ‘til, when their absence would be observed and noted from the great cathedral to which they were ostensibly headed. In that time, they finally heard snatches of the words being sung, and the instruments became more pronounced. Yuriy caught one word, and then another; he saw people stopping in the street, peering around them and then down the long avenue towards the source of the music. Obscured by the great square that held entrances to the main cathedral as well as the Palace of Golden Hills, whatever the group was kept moving closer.

Anna’s grip was tightening on Yuriy’s arm again, though not pleasantly. “There are no words about blood in Kalinka, are there, Yuriy Sergeyevich?” she asked, though she certainly knew the answer.

“No, Anna Timurovna,” he replied, thinking for a moment before clearing his throat. “Sveta, Kolya,” Yuriy barked, “come on, we need to get to the cathedral.”

Svetlana laughed her sweet laugh, spinning once more in Nikolay’s arms before responding to her elder brother. “Don’t be such a worrier, Yura, you have a pretty girl on your arm and we’ve plenty of time!” she cried, laughing as Nikolay lifted her in a rather daring dance move on sometimes slick stones.

Yuriy shook his head, almost growling as more of the words of the song could be made out. He wasn’t yet certain what the words meant in their entirety, but he’d heard enough of ‘blood’ and ‘man’ to recall the rumors of a strike in the city’s industrial quarter. “Kolya,” he barked again, and his friend snapped his head up. Taking in Yuriy’s wide eyes, he stopped moving, snapping Svetlana to his side. “We need to get going,” Yuriy said in a more measured tone, flicking his eyes expressively towards the end of the avenue. “We can get inside first, I think.”

“As you say, Yura,” Nikolay responded quietly, taking Svetlana’s arm over her still good-natured protests. Anna had remained quiet, latched to Yuriy’s side. The avenue was quickly clearing, with people walking speedily towards open doors and the relatively nearby cathedral. The lights of the Palace flickered invitingly behind steel gates and the steely gazes of Royal Dragoons.

Now, moving towards the source of the singing -- for the cathedral would have a strong door, one which could be barred if Yuriy’s fears proved correct, and it was in the direction of the noise -- Yuriy and Nikolay almost carried their young charges. Svetlana was laughing delightedly, blonde hair whipping about her head, arm slung around Nikolay’s neck for support. Anna was less amused; she tried to keep up as best she could with Yuriy, her gaze kept fearfully towards the end of Kayakova Prospekt. She could see lights now, and -- and flags, of all things, and now the singing was unmistakably not Kalinka or any Christmas song.

Even Svetlana had caught on, her laugh dying as she caught more of what was going on. When she was the first to finally spot the marching crowd, thousands-strong, she screamed. “Kadets,” she cried to her brother, locking eyes with him. “They have weapons, Yura!”

“Quickly, now,” Yuriy called, speeding up a bit towards the lit cathedral; it was a risk, to think that the Kadets weren’t going to aim for the grand church. The Knyaz and his family would be there in a few minutes too, but perhaps that was the play. Virtually the entire noble class of Zolodolina would be in that cathedral, and the Palace would hold only the Petrov family, who were evidently clueless about the threat marching towards them.

Of course, the Petrovs might be clueless, but the Royal Dragoons had formed a line ahorse behind the steel gates which seemed impregnable. There were dozens of them, dressed smartly in dark green uniform and distinctive black fur caps. The gate was opening, now, and the horses of the dragoons cantered out. Nikolay and Yuriy had just reached the steps leading up to the cathedral.

Beef... Bread… Freedom…” the protesting horde cried, marching forward.

“Dragoons!” A voice in opposition cried out, rising above the din. “Tote, sabre!” In a beat, the sound of steel on leather rung out, as dozens of sabres were drawn. The mob marched on, though a few seemed to be dipping away into alleys as they spotted the impressive squadron of soldiers that was now slowly moving towards them.

The young nobles had reached the top of the steps, now, and were entering the cathedral. There, they found a handful of priests and other attendants to the mass watching the goings-on outside. “Shall we bar the doors? I think the dragoons will have it this time, you know…” one priest muttered, scratching his chin.

Another huffed. “You think, do you, Yevgeny Olegovich? They certainly dealt with the last group on Yelizavetskaya Prospekt.”

“Aye, but they keep popping up -”

Yuriy stepped up to one of the priests, head turning to look outside again before he turned incredulous eyes on the man. “What in the Lord’s name are you doing, man? Shut the door! Bar it! Why take the risk, I ask you?”

Nikolay, after gently setting Svetlana next to Anna so the two could embrace, stepped up next to his friend. “Aye, bar the door. Even if the mob is scattered, where do you think they will go?”

The priest huffed, waving a hand. “Bar the door if you like,” he said, “but we must be ready for the Knyaz-”

Svetlana looked up at this, interrupting the priest. “Do you really think His Majesty will take the risk to leave the Palace while a mob is at his gate, Father?” she asked, half-incredulous; a tenuous hint of respect remained. “We should-”

“Dragoons! Charge!” the same voice which had cried out before, rising above the din, called the order. The dragoons picked up speed quickly, and their charge would have been devastating.

“Fire! Fire!” a cacophony of voices cried out, almost in return to the previous order, and in a heartbeat puffs of smoke were rising from within the crowd. It was with a scream that Svetlana saw dragoons fly from their horses, and horror that the charge began to waver as it crashed into the suddenly not-so-disorganized mob.

Yuriy and Nikolay immediately moved to shut the heavy wooden doors, and a number of attendants quickly moved to help once they noticed what was happening. More dragoons were falling, and the order to retreat was being screamed by a different voice than before, higher and reedier and altogether less grand.

Svetlana’s scream had brought a number of other members of the congregation out to the entrance hall, and the men who could helped Yuriy and Nikolay shut the door and bar it after they got a look at the falling dragoons. The mob was still singing, though the front contingent had become organized, almost as if it was made up of soldiers; and indeed, perhaps it was.

After the door was shut and barred, those in the entrance hall began looking about each other. They all seemed at a loss to acknowledge what they had seen, what might be happening just outside, and what could happen to the Knyaz. After a moment, an elderly man spoke up; he had come running, and helped shut the heavy door, a strength belying his age apparent. “Are there any other entrances, Father?” he asked of one of the priests.

The other man, similarly elderly and far less impressive looking, shook his head. “We barred the others already to ensure this was the only door used,” he muttered, eyes unfocused. “But we have no weapons here, if they should…”

“They won’t,” Yuriy muttered, walking towards Svetlana and Anna and gathering his sister in his arms. “Kolya, come on. I’ve a feeling we shall be here for a while, if those men are headed where I think they are.”

Nikolay took Anna gently by the arm, making to follow Yuriy. “What are you implying, boy?” Yevgeny Olegovich, one of the priests from before, barked out. “The palace’s gates and walls are impenet-”

“We shall see, won’t we?” Yuriy said clearly, back towards the group of priests. “By God, we shall see whether the gates and walls are impenetrable, and by morning we will know that and much more. Until then, Father, I suggest prayer.”

Svetlana, crying from fear, buried her face in her brother’s coat. All had seemed so lovely, so golden, just minutes ago.
Last edited by Leasath on Fri Oct 11, 2019 10:31 pm, edited 3 times in total.
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Postby Mutul » Tue Aug 27, 2019 8:21 am

"The Phonecall"
Grand Precious Palace of the Five Thrones, K’alak Muul, Mutul
2 April 1993 / 12.18.19.17/0 Wayeb/3 Kaban



Co-written with Ghant

It has been five years since the Chak Yaxnah Ho Kan has changed resident. It has been five years since Jasaw Chan K’awiil officially left humanity behind to become a god. It was an odd feeling, when thinking back on it. Because for the young monarch, he was barely twenty-nine years old, he wasn’t a “new resident”. The Chak Yaxnah Ho Kan, the “Royal Acropolis”, has always been his home. He was born just on the other side of the street and then when he was of age spent almost all of his life being prepared for his purpose in life : becoming a god or, as Jasaw saw it, wearing his father’s mantle. What changed where the actors : some left, some changed roles, a few were added, but the piece was still the same. Like in K’iche Theater repetition was key, each cycle was the same, but with only slight variations.

And speaking of cyclical events, another play was currently in progress. The last act of an old comedy that began thirty five years ago and didn’t knew when to stop. It all started with a book, some sort of fiction that lead to strong reactions from places that didn’t mattered. But it was the sparkle, the inspiration needed for some giant monster, a malicious ogre, to start the second act. And now, act three : where common interests collide with blinkered ethics. Once again, all the roles are the same, with some actors reprising their role but also with newcomers to the stage. One newcomer : The Empire of Ghant. And it was now up to it and the Mutul to make the comedic duo work.

Maybe in the mind of some people this was a tragedy but behind his emotionless and stern mask Jasaw couldn’t help but smile. The old, corrupt, conservative government, which schemed and plotted to gain political clout at the international through its aggressive use of oil, creating with the Mutul, the other Grand Evil threatening the eastern world, a cartel aimed at controlling the petrochemical industry as they saw fit. Yes what great danger that was, but fortunately their plans were twarted and the democratic voice of the people chased these politicians away from power, replacing them with a new generation of good, idealists, wannabe-socialists, willing to correct the mistake of the past. And what better way to start that plan than to turn against the ally of yesterday and buy a new virginity ? A bit too melodramatic for Jasaw’s tastes, but the basic plot was layed down. Now, for all the actors to play their role.

Because the performance was about to start.

Nobody knocked yet the door opened. Contrary to the hidden exit, the main entrance to the Divine King’s office was devised so that it would be difficult and noisy to open. A form of security against the theoretically rude people whom the army of secretary between them and the Divine King’s room couldn’t deter. The other kind of people who could come and go as they please from that room without knocking or being announced by a secretary were an even more elusive breed. A close circle of rather shadowy people that accompanied all men of power. In that case, it was a little man, barely above a meter and thirty centimeters tall, with black hair, black eyes, and a concerned face. Which was never a good sign when one knew of the dwarf’s reputation.

“Sir, His Majesty the Emperor of Ghant wish to speak with you.”

“Is the interpreter ready ?”

“He’s been told to stay awake tonight and has been summoned the moment the call arrived yes. He’s almost there.”

“Perfect. Send the call to my phone once he’s here. Make his Majesty wait for a bit in the meantime.”

The dwarf nodded and returned to carry his Master’s order. Jasaw sighted and abandoned his contemplation of K’alak Muul and of the rainy night to return to his desk. Two or three minutes after, a tall old man arrived, he bowed before the Divine King who allowed him to stand up with a little gesture of the hand. Immediately the old man took place beside his Monarch and the secured telephone.

“0 Wayeb…” wondered the monarch. “Why did he chose to phone today ?” The interpreter remained silent, not willing to risk his position because of an uncalled for answer. The Divine lord sighted. “The signs are the signs. Let’s get done with it.”

Immediately, the phone started ringing. Once. Twice. Thrice. Only then the Interpreter picked up the phone and held it so that both the Divine King and him could hear the conversation.

“Kaloomte’ Albert. We were not expecting you.” Said Jasaw, lying just a little. They didn’t expect him today but it was a discussion necessary for this whole performance to end, one way or another.

“Hello,” the voice on the other end said in Ghantish. “This is Albert, the Emperor of Ghant speaking. I was hoping we could talk one on one, without having to go through politicians and court people. Just an honest man-to-man conversation, you know? That’s how I like doing things, hopefully you feel the same way about that.”

“Ah yes, of course, of course.” the K’uhul Ajaw took a few seconds to organize his thoughts after the interpreter was finished. Even in an informal setting, a discussion between an Emperor and a Divine Lord was no small matter. “A manner of things that tells many good things about your Majesty. If more people were like you we wouldn’t be in such a situation in the first place and things would be quite different. But we do believe we know the reason why this little discussion today is necessary, don’t we? Something of a misunderstanding caused by these very same court people and politicians, isn’t it?”

“Well, you know how politicians are,” the Ghantish Emperor said with a sigh. “They like to twist things around in order to further their own agendas. They like to play on the emotions of the people for their own advantage. That’s why I’m thankful that at least here, in this country, people like that don’t have the final say. It’s a tough job though, keeping the wolves at bay. I’m sure you know all about that too.”

“The dread of the mob gathered by a smooth talker and excited by a sharp tongue yes. We know of it... So, since this an honest one-on-one, let’s be honest. Is there any specific subject your Majesty wished to inform us about ? A sudden twist in the ongoing events, perhaps ?”

“...This whole sacrifice nonsense is bad for business, but you already knew that,” Albert answered. “There’s a lot of pressure to not do business with Mutul because of that, especially from Belisaria. You know how sanctimonious that lot can be.”

“We’ve heard so. But if you want our opinion we think they’re late to the party. The only human sacrifices we have sanctioned have all been criminals who answered “yes” to The Question, and it has been so for the past fifty years. If they really wanted to whimper about it, they should have crawled to Belfras when it was still fashionable to criticise our rituals and beliefs.” The K’uhul Ajaw’s voice was cold and emotionless, but the words were strong. Even the language barrier couldn’t entirely hold back the contempt he had for the foreigners who dared to try and lecture “his people” about what was right and wrong. A consequence of the trans-generational memory of the Divine monarchs, for whom what they had perceived as a humiliation thirty years ago was still fresh on their minds, as if it had happened yesterday, in the same way centuries old grudges were still fully alive and carried on by this distinguished family of god-kings. To forgive and forget, already absent of the mentality of most royals, was at the antipodes of the kind of life philosophy favoured in the sanctified halls of the Five Thrones’ Palace.

“Hey, I don’t disagree with you,” Albert replied politely. “I mean, we’re on the same page about that, but you know how the politicians are. They say the prisoners are coerced, and that it’s inhumane and cruel and unusual punishment. They don’t listen to me, or anyone for that matter. They’ll go on and keep thinking that Mutul is violating human rights, so long as you publicly sanction sacrifice. That’s the slippery slope.”

“Are you their Emperor or not? They shouldn’t be able to not listening to you. Disagreeing maybe, but their accord is none of your concern. It’s none of mine.” The remark was disingenuous, but Jasaw heard loud and clear the word “publicly”. A highly unpleasant word, ringing like a fire alarm.

“...Have you ever heard the story of the Emperor of Ghant who tried taking on the people? Well he tried and failed. I really don’t have the energy or patience for that sort of thing. What I want to do instead is figure out what we can do, how we can proceed...so our nations can do business without having to worry about people complaining, people protesting, politicians getting in the way. You know what I mean?”

“You make it sound like your politicians and the Ghantish People are one and the same. We have studied the functioning of democratic systems as much as you did. They’re really not. But please, inform us of the solutions you’re thinking about. It could, afterall, spare us all from this unfortunate situation.”

“...Well, what if the sacrifice was presented simply as a death penalty for the worst crimes?” the Emperor of Ghant asked. “That way people wouldn’t sympathize with the...em, offerings, because they are beyond redemption.”

“Redemption is indeed at the heart of the problem. We won’t delve too much in the more metaphysical aspects of the act but we believe that even the worst of criminals can make one last good choice in his life. They believe he can’t. Suffice to say, we wonder who is more cruel and inhumane. Besides, can you really certify that, once we bow down to their demands and change it from a sacrifice to an execution, they won’t be emboldened and then demand even more, such as the end of all capital punishments? We heard it was a rather popular opinion these days in your lands and others.”

“That’s the old saying, ‘if you give a mouse a cookie, it will want a glass of milk.’ You give em one thing, they’ll ask for something else. That’s just how it is. At some point you have to draw a line. Like I said, I’m all for the way things are done right now, but convincing people in Ghant and Belisaria that it’s okay? That will take some time.”

“It will take some time to convince them it’s acceptable, but it will also take time to convince our people that it’s not. It is not in my plans to seek the duel with the Traditionalists, and that’s what a promise to end all human sacrifices mean. Especially after all the previous concessions they were forced to make. No, you are right: a line needs to be drawn. And unless you manage to hold back your politicians for the next fifty years, convince them to play their game on the long term, something which they’ve proven to be incapable of, we’re afraid that history has already drawn that line for us.”

“Unfortunately I doubt I’ll be around in fifty years,” Emperor Albert said reluctantly. “That burden shall fall upon my son and my grandson. My son and heir John is...how should I say this...more pliable to political discourse in this country. He will not challenge the politicians, he will facilitate the policies of the elected government. He’s very progressive in his views on democracy, you see. So I fear that things will get worse before they get better, but eventually they will get better between our nations, you’ll see. As you said, it won’t be today or tomorrow, but mark my words, there will come a day.”

Probably his mother’s influence thought the K’uhul Ajaw for himself. he had read all the reports on the Gentry House and its members, and it indeed looked like the days of the Ghant-Mutul cooperation that shook Belisaria through the power of the black gold was well and truly over. Nonetheless, despite everything else, the hope of the Emperor for the future touched a little the K’uhul Ajaw. But Jasaw Chan K’awiil might be patient, who could say how the world will be in thirty years? “Then you know what it means, your Majesty. Your elected government won’t back down, and we won’t bend over any ultimatum. Especially given the conditions of said ultimatum which won’t shake us too much. The only thing we regret is our little agreements around oil. I don’t think they’ve realized what such a rupture would mean for the AOPN either. To let it die so soon would be such a shame…”

At this point, Jasaw Chan K’awiil was talking more for himself than for Albert. The discussion had made it clear: neither Ghant or the Mutul would back down. But there may be ways to avoid a too violent collision. “Your Majesty, have you contacted the Director of your National Oil Company already?”

“I have, and he’s a very clever man,” laughed the Emperor briefly before recomposing himself. “He assures me that there are...various loopholes that we can exploit to keep business going...unofficially of course. For instance, while it might prove difficult to do business directly with Mutul, we could do business with Mutul indirectly through Sante Reze. Nobody would bat an eye at that and the mobs are too stupid to catch on.”

“Yes all the experts we’ve consulted tell us of similar solutions. Which are not so much solutions as they are de-facto crippling taxes on imports and exports. But this, your Director probably told you as much, does not solve the problems of the AOPN. To limit the exchanges of petro-chemicals products, raw or refined, is also to limit the efficiency of any common politics we could wish to establish, as we did in the past. We’re sure you realize how it would affect your capacity to influence other Belisarians nations. So, if you want to preserve such a tool for the future, then we advise you to re-contact again your NOC’s Director, alongside other experts and influential industrialists. We’re sure you’ll find them very amiable to the idea that they should sign a few letters and articles to your Elected Government and use their weight to try and exclude petrochemical products of the ultimatum. This way they keep their PR operation successful, and we keep a little “canal” for communications in the wait of the Day To Come you spoke so elegantly of.”

There was a pause for a few seconds, before the Emperor replied “this I can do. The AOPN, I agree, should not be beholden to the dogmatic whims of politicians and the sentiments of the mob. Our AOPN representatives will be in contact with yours concerning any developments.”

“Excellent. Is there anything else you wished to bring to my attention?”

“...I think that’s it,” answered the Emperor after a moment’s pause for thought. “Thank you for your time.”

“Excellent. The pleasure is all ours, your Majesty.”

It’s the interpreter who hung up the telephone while Jasaw Chan K’awiil was already thinking of something else, his black eyes seemingly lost in visions of his own. The interpreter stood awkwardly there until he bowed down gracefully and opened the door of the office, letting the elusive figure of the dwarf enter the room. This seemingly brought back the K’uhul Ajaw to the present, and the two men fixed one another.

“Tomorrow morning, first hour, sooner if possible, contact the director of Mut Ek’taha and our representatives at the AOPN.”

“What’s the message Your Holiness My Lord ?” Asked the somber dwarf with that professional indifference that characterized him so well. As an answer, Jasaw Chan K’awiil took a piece of paper and started to write down what resulted from the conversation, plus what the individuals concerned by the message should expect, what they should aim for during the negotiations, and many other indications such as what they could give up if pressed to or on the contrary, what they should preserve at all costs. He then gave the paper, now covered in Demotics, to the dwarf, who only took one look at it before tearing it down and stocking the thousands of papercuts in one of his many pockets. His excellent memory, alongside his loyalty, was part of the reason why the Divine Lord had taken the habit to rely more and more on that specific man.

“Now go.” added Jasaw Chan K’awiil, and the dwarf was already gone, breaking almost every rules of court etiquette in doing so, but ignoring these was one of the many privileges you could obtain when you worked directly under the Divine Lord. Once alone, Jasaw Chan K’awiil laid back on his “pillows”, chairs being rare in the Mutul as they favoured sort-of large benches with many layers of pads and cushions, and closed his eyes. Today was 0 Wayeb, a very unlucky day. But maybe in this whole debacle, something could be saved. Maybe the Emperor Albert, in his role of bringer of bad news, brought with him the opportunity to save the furnitures while the house burned down.

Or maybe it was all doomed and there was nothing left to save. Who knew. In both cases, everybody knew that the Mutulo-Ghantish adventure was over and it was time to move on to something else. Something bigger. He stood back up and took a file from one of his desk’s drawers. On it, written in classical glyphic, were only four words he had himself written as a memory aid :

Old West New East
Last edited by Mutul on Tue Aug 27, 2019 8:22 am, edited 1 time in total.

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Yisroel
Bureaucrat
 
Posts: 42
Founded: Jan 26, 2017
Right-wing Utopia

Postby Yisroel » Sat Jan 04, 2020 11:15 pm

PART I

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“Mind your coin, you may never know when!” ― Ernest Agyemang Yeboah



Inperiala Palace
Ghish, Ghant
Summer 1890

(Co-written with Ghant)

The Imperial Palace of Ghant in those days was a dark and dreary place. Despair lingered over the imperial court like a black cloud. Imperial guards walked with great purpose and determination, and courtiers never lingered in one place for too long, as though they feared what might be lurking in the long dark corridors of the palace. It was a court that had seen better days, before civil wars had taken their toll.

The Emperor of Ghant was a tired, old man who had reigned for too long. He was in his late sixties now, and had ruled Ghant for nearly 30 years. His once dirty blonde hair had turned to a faded grey, his once bright blue eyes now sagged and flickered only in firelight, and though he was clean-shaven he appeared scruffy around his jowls. He was bone-thin and weak, no longer the active, vibrant man of his youth. The main thing that could be said about Emperor Nathan II was that he was tired, yet he was unable to rest.

For the realm was at war once again, for the fourth time in his life. The first one ended in 1850, when he was a young man in his twenties. The second one ended in 1873, when he was but fifty, and the last one not even ten years ago. Yet he was once again, dealing with northern lords rebelling in the name of a false claimant to the throne, a would be usurper who lacked the strength and determination to claim anything but another night’s rest from his enemies. They called it the Third Mazadar War, but it was hardly a war at all, yet a war it was all the same.

Torn apart by continuous warfare, the Imperial treasury had been drained. The Emperor lacked funds, he lacked men, he lacked the will to keep fighting rebellious lords who dared him to act against them. Yet, the Emperor had many friends from far away lands, some whom he was reluctant to call in favors from unless it was absolutely necessary. It had now become necessary. The Emperor was tired of losing children to his enemies, tired of being defied, tired of being threatened, and most of all, tired of death. The time to call in some old favors had come, and God willing, he would make sure this Third Mazadar War was the last.



The cold, salty air of the North Thalassan lapped at his face, and the steady gusts of wind nipped at his person. The steamship rocked moderately in a type of almost-calming rhythm as the white-crested dark waters continually pushed against the moving vessel.

Asher Roth opened his eyes, taking in the stormy seas in front of him, one black-gloved hand on the slippery railing, the other gripping the top claps of his overcoat very tightly as his body weathered the constant barrage of foreign temperatures.

He was a Yisraeli banker, far from home - the farthest at this point in his life. Yisrael simply did not get this cold. And he was not yet even to his destination: the Empire of Ghant, a country whose lands simply left the northern edge of the map (or so it seemed in Roth’s estimations) from his schooling in history and geography. “The great northern kingdom,” alone on its own continent-island, a land of myth and lore that few Yisraelis comprehended, much less visited.

This shall be...interesting, he told himself grimly. Turning, he retreated to the relative warmth of his cabin.

His cabin, at least, was tolerably warm, and large enough for a first-class passenger. His employer paid well, that was for sure. His eyes flickered to regard his badge and assembled official documents, resting bundled together by his small bedside table.

The Royal Bank of Yisrael, it read, in both Anglic and Hebrew. There was a sudden sharp turn in the boat’s (by this point) almost-staid rocking, and Roth lunged to grab a hold to avoid falling over. The interruption to his daydreaming passed, and he sat in an armchair in the cabin’s far corner, ruminating on his official duties that brought him so far from home…

The Royal Advisory Council had amended the Royal Banking Act last year, authorizing the bank to begin a program of direct foreign investment. It was, as the newspapers blared, “a time of great nationalism sweeping the world.” Ever since Roth was born - he was barely into his early twenties - all everyone around him would talk about was “the nation,” “our empire,” “our national interests,” “civilizing the barbarians,” “bringing G-d’s light unto the world.” Yisrael opened its coffers to the Great Powers of the world, to fund their military, industrial, and modernization projects.

It was a vibrant time to be alive. Technology changed seemingly over every night - horseback messengers gave way to the near-instant drip-drop of the telegraph, gas-lighting to the new electric bulbs, wooden sail-ships gave way to steamships like one he was on - and from what his friends in the Royal Military Academy had told him, newer, steel-made behemoths soon to replace them.

Now, he found himself apart of the official mission from the Royal Bank to a new client - the Emperor of Ghant himself. He planned to borrow many millions worth of shekels to rearm, modernize, industrialize - one friend off his in the clerk’s office said Nathan II was concerned about another noble’s rebellion. The thing was - he, Asher Roth, now appeared to be the face of the Yisraeli banking mission. His superior, Chaim Alperin, a senior-level banking executive in his mid-forties, had come down with a rather serious cold or flu - the ship’s doctor was unsure - and was, as of now, bed-stricken for the foreseeable future. Which left the mission’s duties to...him.

Shaking off his doubts about potentially representing the Royal Bank in front of the Emperor of Ghant by himself, he arose and headed to the ship’s dining and social compartments.

The steamship took off from Arthurista and made a several day journey to Ghish, the Ghantish capital. He and Mr. Alperin had boarded at Loweport, and the ship sported quite an international passenger list. The intrigue of an unusual mix of nationalities still hadn’t faded as the journey unfolded. He passed several Arthuristan aristocats, one of whom was adorned by a single eyeglass, and the others with chained pocket-watches and white silk ties. Roth had spotted a few Latins, too - one he guessed as a somewhat aloof businessman, another looking to be a young diplomat, and a couple that struck him as wealthy nobles on a “grand tour” of the Ghanto-Belisarian circuit. Being a transport to Ghant, there were, naturally, quite a few Ghantish about - some passengers, some ship crew. They were, to a boot, all extraordinarily pale - the most paper-white he had seen of a man’s race in his life. A few holstered ornate swords sheathed by their belts - he had always looked around, but no one else seemed bothered by this practice.

There was one swarthy-colored Sydalene gentleman onboard...he had sought to avoid that one. The Sydalene twenty-something was about his age, perhaps a few years older, and he affixed Roth a glare every time they crossed paths on the ship. He knew why, too - pan-nationalism was all the talk among the political classes in both Yisrael and Sydalon. There already had been some saber-rattling rhetoric by politicians from both countries, and a few incidents of border guards firing at each other in the Yarden River Valley. The man had embarked as they had in Loweport...and the Royal Bank had specifically issued Alperin and him strict protocols in case of foreign espionage, particularly by Sydalene or Latin spies attempting to interfere with their mission. He didn’t think the Sydalene twenty-something was a spy...but he couldn’t rule it out, either, so he made sure to avoid him in the common areas and double-lock his cabin door at night.

Unfortunately, there he was…they approached the dining room from opposite doors, and their eyes immediately fell on each. The other’s eyes hardened and quickened his pace...Roth, for himself, formed his lips into a thin-lipped frown and walked a bit to the side. As they passed, he nodded his head to the Sydalene so as to not seem rude, what with the other Belisarians around, but the encounter was over as quickly as it began, and he found himself at a table in the corner, overlooking a porthole into a storm-drenched and gray seascape. The Sydalene was nowhere to be seen.

A waiter approached - Ghantish by his highly pale complexion - and stepped up to the table, notepad and pen in hand. The young man - lad really, probably not much more than seventeen - glanced at the black suede kippa pinned to the back of Roth’s combed dark brown hair and nodded. Speaking in a heavily-accented Arthuristan Anglic, he asked: “A drink, sir? From our kosher kitchen?”

Roth smiled. “Yes, please,” he responded in a fairly good Lord-Protector’s Anglic. “Twead’s brand black tea with lemon and two teaspoons of sugar, if you would.”

“Yes, sir,” the other nodded crisply, scribbling the order down and taking his leave. It was rather fortunate this ship was one of the few that had a supervised kosher kitchen and food available. If Mr. Alperin had recalled correctly, this shipping line routinely had Yisraeli, Ghantish, Arthuristan, and Ottonian Jews traveling on it, so the company contracted with Belisarian rabbinical authorities to have a dedicated kashered kitchen, reliably kosher food and drink, and a moshgiach onboard. A few minutes later, his tea arrived. After saying a quick blessing under his breath thanking G-d for providing this nourishment, he took a sip and then glanced around the room as he sipped the hot beverage.

Was the land as exotic as he had heard and read? Would Mr. Alperin recover, or would he, a low-level banking officer, have to sit across the table from the Emperor of Ghant and sign the contract himself? What would behold him in Ghant...

Well, he would find out soon enough.



It was an exceptionally stormy evening in Ghish. The Sea of Ghant was roaring as it clashed against the rocks along the southern coast of Ghant, the wind howled like a ravenous pack of wolves overhead and the clouds were thick and black. All around the docks sailors and dock workers worked to secure the incoming ships and cargo against the tides. The ship that had arrived from Arthurista had a special welcoming party consisting of several Imperial guardsman surrounding a man in his late twenties. The young man had dark blonde hair that fanned out in the wind, and a short beard that glistened with water that had been flung from the sea. Aside from his blue eyes, his clothing was black, as was that of his guards.

The young man held a bottle of whiskey in his hand, sipping it casually as he looked on the ship that had just arrived with a dull expression. When his charge finally emerged from the ship out onto the pier, the young man stepped forward. He had to yell, otherwise the sound of his voice would’ve been obscured by the sounds of the storm. “Mr. Roth,” the man called out. “Welcome to Ghant. I am Prince William. Please come with me.”

High winds greeted Asher Roth as he stepped over the gangplank onto a bustling harbor dock. He used his right gloved hand to bring down the rim of his black fedora to shield his eyes and coif of dark brown hair from the aerial onslaught. Behind him was one of the ship’s bell boys, carrying several pieces of luggage. Like the eye of a hurricane, amidst the throngs of people - mostly pale-skinned Ghantish with a few darker-by-comparison foreigners thrown in - stood a phalanx of black-clothed official-looking guards in sleek body armor and long cloaks, surrounding an equally-black-clad man in a tunic and shorter cloak who sported striking blue eyes, a short beard, and whose blond hair was blowing every which way the wind took it.

Well, Roth thought as the man he spotted locked eyes with him and waved, raising his voice to call out his name. Here we are. Given Mr. Alperin’s declining health, the Ghantish authorities were alerted via telephone (another new introduction introduced just at the start of the last decade) that the ship’s doctor had ordered his superior to stay bed-ridden and to return on the ship to Arthurista to seek extended medical treatment. Before the ship docked, Mr. Alperin had handed the younger man additional papers and the coveted letter of the contract and simply said ‘hatzlocha’ [good fortune in Hebrew]. He knew his duty. It would not be overly difficult. He just needed to represent the Bank in front of the Emperor.

“Sir,” the bell boy whispered into his ear urgently in badly-accented Anglic, “The Prince awaits you! You should not keep him waiting. Please, go!”

Flustered at having dipped into a split-second daydream as an important Ghantish dignitary awaited him patiently, Roth swallowed visibly and dusted off his overcoat of unseen shmutz. He walked through the parted crowd of sailors, dockworkers, and disembarking travelers until he was upon the delegation, and black-clad guards wordlessly encircled him.

“My apologies for the delay, Prince William. This weather…” He waved a hand, palm upwards, gesturing towards the wind-howling, ominously overcast sky. “Asher Roth, Deputy Secretary for Ghantish and North Belisarian Affairs at the Royal Bank of Yisrael. It is a pleasure to meet you,” he said with some semblance of a confident smile, and nodded politely. Another black-clad, stone-faced man waved away the ship bellboy and began to pick up pieces of Roth’s luggage.

The Ghantish Prince bowed clumsily and introduced himself. “Ah, Mr. Roth, well met and welcome to Ghant. The pleasure is mine...legends are told about the Royal Bank of Yisrael. I’ve heard plenty of them.” With a smile, William gestured towards the carriage waiting nearby. “Come, let’s get out of here before it starts to rain. In this country, the rain is cold and will make you sick, especially at night, which it will be soon. I’m sure there’s much you’d like to discuss,” he explained as he began walking at a brisk pace towards the carriage.

Roth’s eyes flickered to regard the bottle of scotch in the other’s hand as well as his clumsy bow, and he favored him with a slight thin-lipped smile. Is the Prince inebriated? Internally, he grimaced. If this is how seriously the Emperor took the Bank’s offer…

He let out a short laugh. “You’ll have to tell me what you’ve heard of the Bank, I don’t know that it has many legends attached to it.” He nodded, “I hate the rain. It’s agreed.” Roth let William lead, as the heavily cloaked guards silently created a ring of privacy.

As he followed the other, he took a moment to gaze into the cityscape ahead of him. The buildings, as far as the eye could see, were usually several stories high, with elegant, grand-looking architectural flair and a pallet of soft, warm colors - pale blues, purples, yellows, and the like, typically crowned with red roofs. Beyond the street ahead of him, he caught the top of a green dome, which he mused might be a large church like those in Belisaria.

The crowd at this point had thinned out as they approached a couple carriages and tied-up horses off the dockyard watched by two more of the Guards’ number. A pair of foreigners immediately caught the corner of Roth’s eye: two stocky, above-average men in heavy overcoats with fur collars, with bronze-hewed skin and the edges of what appeared to be tattoos emerging from their neck. Roth chuckled to himself. Sante Rezese merchants truly have no markets out of their reach…

More Ghantish walked the streets ahead of them. Men, in distinguished garments with holstered sabers by their sides, as well as women in bulb-like dresses, pressed corsets, and a riot of different hats, all in a spattering of deep colors. There were others, hanging towards the alleyways and by street corners, in less refined clothing - simple tunics, unwashed hair, shmuz on their faces, that Roth took to be beggars and ruffians.

He raised an eyebrow as Prince William staggered to his side suddenly but caught himself; serendipitously, he looked from the corner of his eyes but neither the cloaked Imperial Guards or the black-tuniced servants (or whoever they were) with them seemed to react in the slightest to the prince’s conduct. Just before they climbed into the first carriage, Roth thought he glimpsed the deep-seated glare of the Sydalene from the ship, but doing a double take, the man seemed to have vanished. Shaking his head, he stepped up in the carriage behind Prince William.

The Prince plopped down on the seat of the carriage not long as he got in, sinking into the seat with a sigh. After Roth got in and sat down, the guards all got in their respective positions and before long the carriage was off. William leaned his head back and drank some of his whiskey before regaling Roth with a story. “I heard that in Garima, the Dukes and Electors retained the services of Jewish bankers to help fund their war efforts, as the Garimans are a warlike people, there was a great demand for financing. The Gariman Jewish bankers it is said were bankrolled by the Yisrael Bank, and together they all grew rich at the expense of the Gariman states.”

The young Yisraeli banker took off his black fedora, casually brushing his dark brown combed hair with his free hand and gingerly placing the hat down on the seat next to him. He smiled as William elaborated on the Garima story, nodding proudly.

“Yes, I have heard that as well. That was before our 1889 amendments for direct foreign financing, but the Jews in the diaspora have always had special channels to ask for credit from the Royal Bank.” Eyeing the whiskey, he asked William, curiously, “Do you always day drink? In Yisrael, its uncommon unless we’re at a simcha - ,” he paused, frowning, realizing the other likely didn’t know the Hebrew word, “Err, a celebration, such as a wedding or bar mitzvah.”

“It’s a bad habit, like smoking,” the Prince shrugged casually. “But I think this is better for you than smoking. Doesn’t make you cough,” he said with a grin just before drinking again. “Would you like some?”

In the inner sanctum of his mind, Roth froze. On the one hand...yes, he was in the mood for a quick alcohol drink to warm himself up in this cold wind-strapped country...on the other hand, it may seem unprofessional… After musing it over for a couple seconds, he nodded. “Yes, just a shot, if you would.”

“Good man,” William grinned as he produced a shot glass from a small box in the carriage. “It’ll keep you warm when it’s cold out,” explained the prince as he poured Roth a shot glass. “There you go, enjoy.” The prince then offered the shot glass full of whisky to Roth. “Even if you don’t drink alcohol, there’s benefits to drinking it.”

Roth smiled, accepted it, and then muttered a blessing under his lips in rapid-fire Hebrew, “[Blessed are you, [Hashem], Our G-d and G-d of the Universe, through Whose Name everything came to be],” and threw back the shot glass. The whiskey was smooth, going down his throat with little of the fiery heat of lower-quality whiskeys.

“Excellent, thank you, Your Highness.” He gestured at the other. “So, how did you come to escort me to your father, the Emperor?”

William considered the question carefully before answering. “As it happens, I volunteered. For my own reasons, of course.” The prince shifted in his seat and made himself more comfortable. “I’m something of a businessman you see, and I think you and your cohorts are people who respect that...profession.”

Roth’s thin-lipped smile broadened. Nodding knowingly, he said, “We certainly do. The Royal Bank of Yisrael is always on the look-out...for enterprising foreign business partners.”

Offering up his just-used shot glass, he nodded towards the whiskey bottle, whose liquid line had grown noticeably lower. “I would like to do what we Jews call a l’chaim. It’s Hebrew, it means ‘to life.’ We share drinks with friends, new and old, and ask for G-d’s blessings upon us all. If you would like, I’d like to share a l’chaim with you now to...bless this meeting of like-minded businessmen for what I hope may be any number of future successes together.”

“Of course, that sounds grand,” Prince William exclaimed. “Show me how to do it though, I’m afraid I’m unfamiliar with the custom.”

Roth chuckled and grinned, amused. “Just pour each of us a shot, and say, ‘l’chaim!’. Then drink. It’s quite easy.”

“Alright, let me try it.” Chuckling, the prince poured both of them a shot of whisky, and then he exclaimed “I’chaim!” before downing the glass. “Like that?”

“Perfect,” the Yisraeli banker affirmed, finishing his own shot. “What kind of...business are you involved in, Prince William?”

“Alright, so here’s what I’m doing,” the Ghantish Prince began to explain as the carriage rolled along the road. “So, there’s this game called hockey, maybe you’ve heard of it. If not, I’ll tell you it’s a game that involves six players on each team playing on a field of ice, and they try to hit a ball into a net with sticks. Three play on offense, two on defense and there’s a player in the net called a goaltender. There’s amateur teams all over southern Ghant, but with the right organization and monetary backing, there could be a league of teams that play professionally,” William explained thoughtfully before drinking again.

“I haven’t,” Roth replied, curious. “It sounds like a variation on Belisarian football, though with sticks and the ice playing field. How does one make money on these teams, or through this proposed league?”

William scratched his small beard before answering, “People would pay money to come and watch these games. A spectator sport, you see, like the Latin circus games. Also yes, it is similar to Belisarian football, I suppose, but with a twist. These sorts of games have always been popular in Ghant, especially up north. Up there there’s this game called iceball from which hockey originated, and it's been played since ancient times.”

Roth mused, thinking over the concept. “Interesting. After I conclude the Bank’s business with your father, I would like to hear more, perhaps if you have a business plan or its outline written up.” He glanced outside of the carriage window, gesturing a gloved hand towards a group of well-dressed Ghantish men walking near them, the one in the center having a sword hanging from his waist. “If I may ask, what is the practice for certain men to have the holstered swords on their belts? Many Ghantish men I have come across, on my trip here as well as when we embarked on this carriage ride, seem to be sporting such arms. What is its significance?”

Shaking his head, William explained that “it’s a matter of demonstrating your prowess and readiness to defend your honor, or that of another...in an honorable way. Everything in this country is a matter of principle. Also yes, I’d be quite happy to tell you more about this...Ghantish hockey league, if you will.”

“Are there...actual duels in the streets?” Roth asked, raising an eyebrow. “I presume there are some limits on who can carry, or is it open to all?”

“Sometimes, though it’s mostly in more intimate settings,” answered William as he thought about the questions. “Bandits and felons maybe disarmed, and children obviously. Otherwise though you carry up to your level of competence, I suppose.”

Roth looked more intently at William. “Have you ever been involved in such a confrontation? Or witnessed one, perhaps?” As the other was answering, a gunshot rang out, shattering glass towards the top of the right-most carriage window. Panicking, Roth ducked his head as close to his knees as possible as the carriage came to a stop.

William jumped right out of his seat at the gunshot, and in response drew a pistol that he had tucked in his waistband. “Shit,” he said with gritted teeth. “Not this shit again.” The Ghantish prince went down to the bottom of the carriage with Roth, and told him, “We need to go, Mr. Roth. Right now...follow me.” Then William threw open the carriage door. Ghantish Imperial guardsmen were swarmed around the carriage exchanging fire with hooded men in the alleys, while other guardsmen had drawn their weapons and began fanning out into the streets. Another gunshot rang out and struck the back wheel of the carriage, causing the wheel to collapse while the carriage sunk down on that corner.

“Your highness,” a knight called out. “I will escort you to the palace safely.”

“Aye, Sir Manfred.” Manfred Voor was a member of the Ghantish Oathblades, knights sworn by oath to serve and protect the Emperor and his family. Manfred was chosen by the Emperor to accompany William to the docks, and to bring him back safely. Fortunately for both William and Manfred, they knew these streets well, and in the event of an attack, they had a plan to reach the palace grounds safely.

Roth grabbed his fedora and messenger bag (containing some of his most important documents), and, head held downwards, wordlessly followed the prince out of the carriage. He involuntarily cringed as another shot rang out, causing the carriage to sink. He glanced to observe a gunfight between a few of the cloaked Imperial Guards and some camouflaged assailants, as William and a particular knight led the way from the ambush.

The trio went at a fast jog, the two Ghantish brandishing pistols. Civilians on the streets started scattering at the prolonged gunshots. “This way, Your Highness!” The knight shouted, and they turned onto a sparsely-populated cobblestone street.

Becoming out of breath, Roth paused, causing the duo to stop with him. Putting his right hand against his chest and taking a couple breaths, he put on the fedora and peeked inside his messenger bag to ensure his essential papers were still there. Nodding to William and Manfred, the banker said with a weak smile, “So...how often does this happen in the Empire of Ghant, anyways?”

“More often than it should,” William said between breaths. He threw back another gulp of whiskey from his flask before adding, “too many wars make for too many enemies, Mr. Roth. Revolutionaries, assassins, bandits, spies, you name it, they’re never too far away these days.” William and Manfred looked around a corner at the end of an alley, and then the former gestured towards Roth “let’s go. We keep going this way, we will be on palace grounds.”

Roth laughed mirthlessly, and started up jogging again behind the other two. “Yes, well, Yisrael has been dealing with spies, anarchists, and border incidents for years with Sydalon. If these attackers are so brazen to ambush a prince of the realm in broad day in the middle of the capital...clearly your father needs all the help he can get.” As they were moving quickly onto another street, Roth frowned as a thought came to him. Is it the prince - or me - that these assailants were after?

“Prince William,” he addressed the other as they continued. “Is there any reason to believe they were targeting my mission to your father?”

The Ghantish Prince and the Knight led Roth through back-alleys in the embassy district, away from the prying eyes of people gathering in the streets. “Well, it’s certainly not me that they want dead...they’ve had plenty of opportunities to accomplish that. You’re the one they want, if I had to guess, because of what you can give. The rebels are in league with the criminal underground. Let’s keep moving though, before they catch up to us.”

Roth groaned. Me? A target? Well, that’s a first… aloud, he said: “I see what you mean…”

They continued through the back streets, avoiding garbage and casually-tossed debris, until they emerged onto a grand boulevard, and a majesty set of buildings lay before them. “The famed Inperiala Palace, Your Highness?”

“That’s it,” William called out to Roth. “Let’s go, quickly now…”

Just as William, Ser Manfred and Roth entered the grand boulevard, shouting could be heard from behind them. William turned his head and saw a group of men wielding pistols and swords coming towards them. A few shots rang out but were far off-target. Meanwhile Imperial guardsmen began streaming out into the boulevard from the palace grounds, precipitating a melee. From the side a masked assailant brandishing a shortsword pounced at Roth, prompting Ser Manfred to slash at the man’s sword-arm.

The masked assailant collapsed to the ground in a bloody mess with his arm dangling loosely from his shoulder, groaning in pain. William stared at the man and said “let’s get the fuck out of here, Mr. Roth,” before grabbing his companion by his shirt and urging him on towards the palace gates. Behind them there were roughly fifty guardsmen entangled in street fighting with just as many masked assailants.

Roth did not need William’s encouragement. The young Yisraeli banker ran as fast as his legs carried him, clutching his messenger bag in one hand and the other gripping the edge of his black fedora. With the other two by his side, they breathlessly entered through the palace gates. Pausing to catch their breath, Roth paled when a hooded attacker appeared from the way they just came, gripping a shorter sword. He rushed the trio, making a slashing move towards Roth. William expertly brought up his pistol and shot the man point-blank in the head, and the assailant’s dead body toppled backwards onto the cobblestone driveway.

His fear crystallizing into anger, Roth snapped, moreso to himself and at the dead assailant with the still-smoking gunshot wound in front of him, “I have had enough of th-these damned schmucks. Are we in the middle of a full civil war? Is anywhere safe from these cursed rebels?”

Turning to William, jabbing a gloved finger at his chest, his voice now with a more determined edge to it, “We need to get somewhere safe. I need to see your father.” The other nodded as a squad of additional black-cloaked Imperial Guards rushed passed them, the sounds of gunshots and metal clashing still ringing loud in the air around them.

They went towards a side entrance, where two Imperial Guards with rifles were at the ready flanking the door nodded to them, and they entered Inperiala Palace. Roth threw one last look over his shoulder as they entered the home of the Emperor of Ghant.

The palace interior was a contrast to the chaos outside. Within the palace, the walls and ceiling sparkled in a brilliant golden light from the crystal chandeliers hanging from the ceiling and the golden ornaments sitting undisturbed on long narrow tables along the walls. The floor was patterned with black and white square tiles, while the hallways were wide enough for half a dozen men to walk side by side.

William and Manfred began to dress down and check themselves for hidden wounds, but neither found any. “Ghant’s been in a state of Civil War for nearly a hundred years,” the prince groaned as they were approached by half a dozen members of the Imperial Black Guard, so named for their imposing black armor, and having a reputation for exceptional combat training. “They just break it up into different wars with names, but rest assured, people were still fighting during the gaps between them, over something. We’re safe in the confines of the palace, rest assured, Mr. Roth.”

The young Yisraeli banker grimaced. “Is there no peace for the Ghantish?” He patted himself down, but he, too, was free of injury and handed off his overcoat, scarf, fedora, and gloves to a tunic'd servant to put away. Shifting his messenger bag from one hand to the other, he gestured towards the ceiling.

“Absolutely stunning architecture, for what it’s worth, Your Highness. Has the Palace ever seen any direct fighting?”

“It has not, though it has certainly come close,” William answered, noticing Manfred giving a report to the Black Guards. “There has been no peace since my great-grandfather presumed to call himself the Emperor of Ghant, but the people grow tired of war, and with your help, maybe we can put it to an end.” As he spoke, the prince withdrew his flask and threw some whisky back once more before adding, “but this is Ghant, so I can’t really say once and for all. There’s always going to be a fight going on involving someone, somewhere.”

Roth smirked at the other’s comment but said nothing.

“Truthfully,” he said, his tone thoughtful. “My people - the Jews - fight amongst ourselves so much, though rarely with any violence, I cannot say I am unfamiliar with the situation. Around the year of my birth, there was a failed liberal and anti-religious revolution in Yisrael’s main cities.

“The king and the royal army crushed it, of course, as their declared intentions were anathema to all Torah-believing Jews, and it has ushered in the current era I grew up in, what some scoffers call ‘the White Terror’. Liberalization and dissent are dealt with…harshly. I expect the forces of radical change will never gain a foothold in my country. Still, there remain...pockets...of would-be revolutionaries. They have yet to dare to attempt another uprising. But I wonder if one of these days they may try again…”

William nodded grimly as Manfred finished speaking with the Black Guards and approached Roth and himself. “One thing I’ve learned to say throughout my life is to never say never. Given enough time, anything can happen, and sooner or later everything does.”

Ser Manfred Voor informed William and Roth that “the Emperor will receive us now, we should make with haste for the throne room,” and then the oathblade knight began walking in that direction.

“Let us go see my father then, shall we?” William said to Roth with a nod. “I’m sure the two of you will have plenty to discuss.” Having said that, William began following Manfred down the hall, with Roth in tow.

User avatar
Cynereth
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Founded: May 13, 2019
Ex-Nation

Postby Cynereth » Sat Feb 01, 2020 11:29 pm

Reprinted from the Tansilla Historical Revue, Volume CXXVII, Issue IX


"She is the mother of us all. Without her, Cynereth is nothing."
Aunura Irlestris I, December 1525 CE


Image


PART ONE — MYTHS & LEGENDS
Saturday, February 2nd, 2020 CE|Edited by Dr. Alam Thelisa



ACCORDING TO HISTORICAL RECORDS+
the Tamsenic Dynasty ended in May 1201 CE, when Aunura Ternys — the ninth successor to the legendary Conqueror — succumbed to the Bleeding Plague without natural heir or relative. Over 250 years of Concordance history were concluded under the duress of the bloody pox, a morbid pestilence that may have killed more than a million Cynerethens according to archaeological research conducted in 1975. The episode could have led to the dimming of a cultural institution that had dominated the spirit of a sociopolitical and religious movement for more than a quarter of a millennium. The fall of autocratic warlords is a common-enough tale throughout the annals of history, and it was very much conceivable that the considerable sway Tamsen's progeny held over the conquered Vyrric tribes may have vanished like the fleeting fogs on a murky summer morning. Instead, something very different occurred: the legends of veneration became cherished myths of a golden age of conquest and unity, when the world made sense and Cynereth was a burgeoning power on the cusp of being birthed into a glorious existence.

Today, the name Tamsen is almost ubiquitous within the Concordance: the Aunurai of Laeleath sit upon a Throne bearing her name, while clerics and priests pray to her effigy, championing the religion she helped establish. Monuments of her likeness from every epoch in Cynerethic history dot the landscape, and her shrine in Ivis Laren remains the most visited in all of the Concordance. She is venerated in the Anaryssian faith as the promised Champion of the Goddess Rukka, the fulfillment of the promise made to her maternal grandmother Cyneres that a powerful nation would be forged from her progeny. She is celebrated among Cynerethic historians for her nigh-miraculous conquest of the Vyrric tribes, and for uniting a disparate group of brethren into a geopolitical unity that would help shape the balance of Belisarian history for the next thousand years. Philosophers pour over her scholastic works, interpreting tomes of rhetoric and verse so instrumental to Concordance history, the very fabric of the nation could unravel without them. Patriots adore the power and might that she wielded to such great effect; rebels praise her as the matron of revolution, channeling her influence as an impetus to buck the system and win themselves a new freedom.

As students of history, we are sometimes forced to confront difficult challenges to so cozy a narrative as the prescribed legend of the Concordance’s great mother. Make no mistake, Tamsen of Bataan once drew breath upon our sacred soil, and most certainly earned her title of Conqueror before her death in 946 CE. Yet deciphering the true legacy of the historical figure requires measuring the legends and myths surrounding her against the evidence provided by the archaeological record. History is rarely cast in polarized black and white terms; rather, it exists in muddied shades of gray that sometimes challenge us to let go of our comfortable facts in favor of more pointed truths. As both a historical figure, religious prophet, and famed warlord the reputation of Tamsen the Conqueror can sometimes intersect mythology, philosophy and religion, presenting scholars with a unique challenge in painting an accurate representation of who Aunura Tamsen was, and why she was so vital to the formation of the Concordance. Often, the importance of historical figures can see embellishment from devoted charges looking to pump the relevancy of their favored subjects. In the case of Tamsen, every ounce of embellishment is well-earned in the face of her monumental importance.

We now arrive then at the natural conclusion to this confluence of myth, legend, and record: who was Tamsen of Bataan, and why was she able to succeed where so many others had failed? Why was this firebrand, the granddaughter of a slave from a backwards and weak tribe capable of laying waste to the great champions of the Vyrric states in less than a decade? How could such an insignificant player from such an insignificant place wreak so much havoc in so short a time? The assimilation of Christian and Pagan adherents into the faith of her people was so complete, it was estimated that not a single soul remained in her empire that openly professed a religious belief contrary to her own. Given the limitations of technology in the tenth century, the speed with which her forces conquered the would-be Concordance is astounding, if not otherworldly. It stands to reason that so meteoric a rise would produce mythologies almost as mystical as the religious claims her family made. Historical record and mythology must work in concert to produce the full understanding of who the first Aunura was, and what it was that made her capable of the great task she undertook. Only the divine daughter of Amorha could cast such a lofty reputation over a nation and a people.

One of the most enduring myths of Tamsen’s Conquest of the Vyrric Tribes was that she conquered the whole of the region in her lifetime. This stems from the idea that the Concordance was an ironclad compact forged from her blood and the labor of her divine love. In truth, the modern Concordance was not rendered complete until the reign of Aunura Renna almost three centuries after her death. Only a half-dozen of the more than twenty tribes and independent city-states capitulated to her rule in her lifetime: Astathan, Azaelen, Laeleath, Lethlan, Remirah, Senzes, and Sothemar. Of the conquered city-states and tribes that fell under her dominion, two would break away from the Concordance shortly after her death, requiring the commitment of forces loyal to her daughter Asara to reintegrate the rebellious provinces into the fold. There is also a component of the mythologized palingenesis surrounding Tamsen of Bataan that her dominion over the Bataani tribe was absolute and unquestioned; in fact, the Conqueror was very nearly conquered during her reign by a large tract of insurrectionists led by one of her key generals, Aerveth at the Battle of Xarana in January 926 CE, demonstrating how tenuous her hold on power could be at times.

Had Aerveth succeeded in defeating Tamsen at Xarana, the history of Cynereth would have been dramatically altered. That the Conqueror paraded Aerveth’s severed head on a pike before her armies following his defeat perhaps best embodies the historical certainty of her meteoric rise to power over the lands that would one day form the Concordance. In some respects, her dynamism and force of personality were as potent a weapon in her arsenal as her military prowess, or the zealous faith in her proselytes. Mythology surrounds Tamsen of Bataan in no small measure due to the fact that Tamsen of Bataan cultivated myths to bolster her credentials. Most of the ancient and medieval monarchs were capable of such bravado – much power was maintained through one’s force of personality. In Tamsen’s case, that force of personality reached far beyond her days, casting a long shadow over the Aunurai that followed her. Her spirit haunts the land like a looming specter, forever holding vigil over the ‘northern jewel’ she left upon the continent. Though her body has lied within its guarded shrine for more than a millennium now, in many respects the soul of Tamsen remains in the land, as though she herself still governs it, thirsting for eternal dominion over it.

Who is Tamsen of Bataan? Can the myth of Tamsen and the story of her deeds be reconciled to the historical record? Or, like the ancient gods and goddesses, is her existence so interwoven into legend that fact and myth become almost interchangeable? Scholars have long sought to imbue the legendary Aunura with a factual veneer, that Cynereth's palingenesis might stray from mythologized yarn to verifiable truth. Even in light of these academic pursuits, much remains left to interpretation with respect to Tamsen's legacy, and what it means both for Cynerethens and Belisaria as a whole. Perhaps, as with all the great figures of antiquity, the demarcation line between fact and fiction matters little, for the legacy of a mythologized leader is almost as vital to their story as the facts that define them in perpetuity. The story of Tamsen is a tale riddled with drama and intrigue, the tenuous sinew of which holds cobbled historical facts and grand anecdotes in equal standing with one another. If one were to pull back the veneer of authenticity that permeates the legacy of the Matriarch of Destiny, it is unlikely that even a learned scholar could decipher where fact ended and fiction began. To conquer the story of the Conqueror is a conquest in and of itself.


~

Link: The Bataani Yadaras, or Carnyx was a staple of Tamsen's armies, used (to great effect) to instill great fear in opposing armies.

~


THE RISE OF THE GREAT AUNURA+
in Cynereth coincides with a period of upheaval among the established clans, tribes and city-states. Though extant powers sometimes coalesced the various political entities inhabiting the land into a unified confederation known as Vyrrica, the Vyrric peoples were in fact as alien to one another as native Belisarians are to Norumbians. At the turn of the tenth century, the average Senzesian was as likely to know of the existence of Tanrus or the Lethri tribe as they were the existence of automobiles or the internet. Despite sharing a common genetic link in the distant past, the promulgation of unique cultural, linguistic and religious tenets had created barriers between the Vyrric peoples that were thought in the ancient world to be nigh-intractable. Various tribal chieftains and land-hungry warlords had attempted to penetrate those barriers at different periods in antiquity, thus demonstrating that the concept of a Vyrric conquest was far from unique to Tamsen's story or time. Warfare among the city-states and tribal neighbors was surpassed in frequency only by warfare within the city-states and tribes themselves.

By 900 CE, the prestige of the great city-states had begun to wane; a serious of calamitous plagues had severely weakened the major power-brokers among the Vyrric states like Avastra and Kalaada. Infighting had all but destroyed Kaensel tribe's dominion over the Lower Jeus Valley, and even the mighty warriors of Tersa were no longer feared as they had once been. Historically, one could argue that the Vyrric States of the tenth century were ripe for conquest; few could have predicted at that time that a Bataani governess would be the conquering champion, however. In the parlance of the times, Bataan was something of a pariah – a bastion of unclean beggars and superstitious kooks dwelling in the dark recesses of their mountainous abodes. The city-state was so disrespected among its neighbors that it had been conquered on three separate occasions, only to lapse back into autonomy when the conquering powers abandoned it out of sheer abhorrence. Bataani slaves were perhaps the most well-traveled of all Vyrric peoples, if only because their value in the major city-states were so low that slavers would be forced to travel far and wide to find a way of making a profit from their captives. In short, Bataan was a city of little consequence or import.

Even the mighty Tamsen of Bataan held lowly roots mired in the shame of her people. Her grandmother, Cyneres had been a slave in a Laeleathi merchant's caravan at one time before she earned her freedom. According to legend, Tamsen's grandmother was so homely and indecorous that her master found her unworthy to sire children, thus explaining how the bondservant came to find herself back among her Bataani brethren. It was perhaps that callous indignity that fueled the former slave's rise to power within Bataan, and perhaps why Cyneres's granddaughter would one day avenge the honor of her family by burning Laeleath to the ground, and putting every one of its ten thousand souls to the sword. There is considerable debate within the academic community over whether Cyneres's purported religious conversion to Rukkanism occurred prior to, during or after her rise to power in Bataan. What is known is that her status as the Aunura of Lady Rukka was firmly established by the time Tamsen was born around 904 or 905 CE. The appearance of the deity to Cyneres on the Laedrae Road and her anointing as Rukka's arbiter on Earth sparked a breakaway sect of Rukkanism, Anaryssia (from a Bataani word that, loosely translated, means bondservant).

By the time of Cyneres's death in 915 CE, her daughter Velia had already risen to the leadership of the Bataani people, though the sack of Bataan at the hands of the Senzesians in 918 CE had once again rendered the city-state a laughing stock among the Vyrric states. The attack could have snuffed out the Anaryssian sect in the movement's infancy; instead, it served as the impetus for a thirteen-year-old Tamsen to slay her mother before the Council of Elders at Amorell Court, assuming leadership of both Bataan and the Anaryssian sect. Having been instructed by her grandmother direct, Tamsen utilized the religious fervor of her small but loyal sect of proselytes to galvanize her position of power in Bataan, slowly snuffing out threats that had existed to both her grandmother's and mother's reigns in leadership. When the Senzesians attempted to loot the city once more in 923 CE, it was her followers' zealous devotion to her divine role as the earthly champion of their supreme deity that led to the surprise rout of Senzesian invaders. The ensuing war would establish the template for the next ten years of Tamsen's reign as the governess of the Bataani people, with her forces constantly managing to extricate themselves from seemingly-untenable positions.

Of course, history teaches of the momentous episode at a small crossing on the River Aurinas near Tawea known as Faera Sylonis in 924 CE. It was at Faera Sylonis where Tamsen and her trusted adjutants Tynan and Darrous Zyal orchestrated one of the most improbable military victories in all of antiquity. Facing a vastly-superior force of Senzesians (by some contemporary accounts, Tamsen's Bataani militias were outnumbered by Senzesian heavy cavalry and grenadiers seven-to-one), the Bataani forces managed to turn, then utterly-annihilate the Senzesians at Faera Sylonis. With its armies decimated, Senzes was ripe for conquest, which Tamsen immediately launched in the sixth month of 924 – thus began the great Tamsenic Conquest of lore. Bataani forces laid siege to the capital city of the Senzesian tribe, Haniva for more than a year before pestilence and famine forced its capitulation. Though exact records were not kept, it is believed that more than four-fifths of the population was slain in retribution for the constant raids on Bataan by Senzesian raiders. The listless, gaunt survivors from Haniva were chained together with their eyes, ears and tongues mutilated. Then they were paraded before the Bataani armies as trophies of Tamsen's epic conquest.

This macabre act of brutality, though ghastly to modern sensibilities, served a greater purpose; it instilled such fear in the Senzesians that many pledged to support Tamsen and convert to the Anaryssian faith. This model repeated itself the following year when Senzes's weaker neighboring tribes, the Azaelen and Lethlan clans preemptively capitulated to the Bataani armies and converted to Anaryssia rather than face the immense destruction that befell the Senzesians at Haniva. Through the incorporation of the Azaeleni and Lethlanic tribes into her confederacy of Bataani militants and Senzesian slaves, Tamsen proclaimed the establishment of the Dominion of Cynereth after the name Lady Rukka had given to her grandmother. Though this fledgling polity was a far cry from the strength that the future Concordance would one day wield, it was a hallmark episode in Cynerethic Antiquity; for the first time, a single individual was wielding power over a coterie of Vyrric peoples. With her Dominion rapidly intensifying in strength, Tamsen turned her proselytes on the Astathan and the Sothemar tribes next, waging a six-year war against the stout clans, gaining more and more converts to her faith with each successive victory over larger forces.

Tamsen's capacity to successfully wage war despite facing significant disadvantages in manpower and materiel is widely accepted among scholars; the debate then centers on how Tamsen became so adept in military tactics. The prevailing theory credits much of her success to a decided aptitude for identifying talented adjutants: the stories of heroism from her champions Belenis and Ceethan were legendary in her era, as were Bataani examples of tactical genius such as the successful sack and destruction of Laeleath in 931 CE. Yet the governess herself was thought to have demonstrated her own tactical brilliance when she routed a Sothemar legion three times the size of her own army at the Battle of Camazhen in 928 CE. Her political aptitude was solidified in the successful quelling of internal revolts, and her management of an expanding territory that came under threat from Vyrric tribes looking to stem the rising threat Tamsen's Dominion represented. Indeed, the old Vyrric order was slowly crumbling under the weight of Tamsen's pressing advance; to many, her rapid rise seemed more a product of destiny than a fluke of random happenstance, further accelerating the growth of her fame and renown among the Vyrric city-states and tribes.

By 933 CE, Tamsen of Bataan had forged a reputation that had spread throughout the Vyrric lands, instilling a unifying presence among disparate peoples that had hitherto never been seen in that region of Northern Belisaria. Still, her Dominion was not without significant challengers to regional hegemony: the treasure city of Remirah was a vastly influential and powerful player in the Vyrric lands. As the largest municipality among the Vyrric states, Remirah's reach was unsurpassed among its neighbors. Their reputation meant little to Tamsen, who immediately laid siege to the city after wiping out a garrison of troops raised to defend it from her approaching army. The Siege of Remirah would last for more than a year; though it fared significantly better than Haniva had ten years prior due to its port, city elders recognized that Tamsen would ultimately plant her flag over the charred ruins of their city. Thus, a daring gambit was hatched in which the city would voluntarily surrender itself to her forces, agreeing to pledge itself to the Dominion willingly in exchange for agreeing to spare the city from destruction. Recognizing the pragmatism of the offer, Tamsen peacefully marched her army into Remirah in February 934 CE in a bloodless handover of power.

The instrument of capitulation, known as the Concordance between Cynereth and Remirah was an historic moment. The Concordance established in 934 CE was, at the time, thought to be an arrangement of political convenience between an exhausted Dominion and the pragmatic councilors of the treasure city of Remirah. Instead, that Concordance would long endure beyond Tamsen's reign as Aunura, which would continue for another twelve years before her death in February of 946 CE. The Concordance between Cynereth and the city-state of Remirah represents the official beginning of the Cynerethic state as it is known today, as it established the height of Tamsen's power over the Vyrric peoples, and also formed the bulwark that would ultimately conquer the rest of the Vyrric lands over the next three centuries. Though she would defend her new Concordance against other Vyrric city-states and tribes over the last twelve years of her life, the great Conqueror would seek to find solitude in her new empire wherever she could. She ordered the construction of a new estate near the ruins of Laeleath in 944 CE; when she died there two years later, its veneration led her daughter Asara to proclaim it the new capital of Cynereth.

The legacy of Tamsen of Bataan is a complex one, and certainly rife for debate. Her cruelty to her enemies was as much a part of her image in her lifetime as her tactical brilliance, a fact that most modern Cynerethens gloss over. Perhaps the unity that now exists within the Concordance eases the moral indignities that her subjects faced, fresh off their subjugation into a strange new faith under duress. Of course, one could (and has) argued that Tamsen's methods were commonplace among the Vyrric states in that age; her willingness to adopt new converts into the fold was decidedly unique among her contemporaries. The seeming contradictions in her character speak to a conflicted soul seeking to balance her role as imperator with her role as the leader of a religious movement. As her thirst for conquest began to wane in favor of her growth as the prophetess of a new religion, those complexities would manifest into an eclectic historical figure whose gravitas would forever shape a monarchy blood-bought by her seasoned hands. These pieces to the Tamsenic puzzle help us better to understand the nature of the leader that forged the auspices of the Concordance that now unites the Vyrric people under the Cynerethic banner in modernity.




ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Dr. Jaesia Rodori, 45, is a senior contributor for the Tansilla Historical Revue periodical,
and is a tenured instructor in the Department of Anthropology at Tansilla University in Raeda Sathalis.
She completed her dissertation on the post-Conquest religious tenets of the Vyrric tribes, and has lectured for
the Caald Fellowship on four different occasions. Her body of research includes several award-winning books
on the Ancient Vyrric warlords, as well as an extensive series of biographies of the Tamsenic Aunurai. A native of
Jolhi, she lives with her husband Lorad and their three children in Parlan Vyn.
Last edited by Cynereth on Sun Feb 02, 2020 1:50 am, edited 2 times in total.
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Nordwalsh
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Founded: Mar 19, 2013
Scandinavian Liberal Paradise

Postby Nordwalsh » Sun Jan 17, 2021 1:40 am

"DEC75"


Miskozie, Maschoda, Walzenia
December 24th, 1975



Obizaan drifted in and out of sleep, feet up on the desk in his study, burying his hands in his armpits as he felt his gentle buzz sleep away and once more felt the invasive chill creeping in through the windowpane beside him. Subdued laughter echoed from behind the door as the rest of the family continued their festivities beyond, though the volume had steadily decreased over time as the relatives trickled out following prolonged goodbyes. He hated to slip away like this, but he just couldn’t keep his eyes open. Obi had learned to steal naps whenever possible over the past several months. God only knew when those bastards would come to blows again and leave him to clean up the mess.

The shrill ringing of a phone pierced through the door and roused Obizaan from his stupor. Putting his feet down, he leaned forward and pawed at the sleep in his eyes. That was probably a sign for him to rejoin the party while he still could.

“Papa, phone for you.” His youngest son leaned on the doorknob and peered through the crack as the door opened, unsure if he should be disturbing his father.

Obizaan stared blankly for a second before nodding. “Be right there. Thanks, bud.”

As little feet pattered away, Obizaan stood, stretched, and lumbered down the hall to where the phone sat on the wall. His wife stood holding it to her ear with a concerned expression, and Obizaan’s heart dropped at the uncertainty in her eyes.

“What is it, hon’?” Obi asked.

She shook her head and handed him phone. “Your sister. Says something’s happened.”

Obizaan grimaced as he put the phone up to his ear. “Wozha?”

“Have you seen the news?” Wozhawashko’s tone was curt, uneven.

“No, what’s happening?”

“It’ll be faster if you just look at the news.”

Obizaan walked down the hall and leaned around the corner into the living room as far as the phone cord would allow. Various miscellaneous family members sat peacefully in the dim evening light, the wood stove crackling, the television dark. Obi pointed to the television and motioned for his uncle to turn it on, holding up three fingers to indicate the channel. He glanced at the clock – just about time for the six o’clock news – and watched as his uncle fuddled with the dial and antenna. Obizaan’s wife entered with the little one in tow, throwing him a furtive look. The rest of the children were outside, playing in the snow, their location made clear by muffled giggling and gleeful shouts.

“Wozha, is this news, or news? Did those actors in Mooniyaang finally agree on something? Or is it the Jensen boys?” After a moment he hesitantly added, “The Front?”

“Are your little ones all home?” Wozhawashko ignored the question.

“Yes, why? Wozha, listen, you know you can tell me anything. If you got mixed up in something, tell me, I can help you—”

“As soon as you see the news, go see Nenaa and get the militia together.”

“The militia?! Wozha, what-“

“Whatever you hear on the news, it wasn’t us.”

“Wozha-“

The click of her hanging up was defeaning. He walked back down the hall to put the phone back on the hook and put a hand to his mouth, leaning against the wall.

“What’s that about the militia?” A cousin called from the living room. “That was Wozha right?”

“Maybe we should go.” Another said, leaving out the unspoken fact that if Wozha had done something news-worthy, then Obizaan’s household was about to be a very inconvenient place to be.

A snort and chuckle. “You all would do well to follow her example.” The brittle voice of Obizaan’s grandmother chastised her juniors, shaky in flow but resolute in purpose. “My mother told me all about the Totem Wars growing up – those damn longknives can never be forgiven for what they did to this land, I don’t care what they rename, what they pay us—"

“Grandmother…” Obizaan rounded the corner again. “Please, not on Christmas Eve.”

“I got it!” His uncle exclaimed from his position by the television as a fuzzy image rolled in, accompanied by a piercing alarm.




Wierandrie, Maschoda

Wozhawashko let out a string of expletives as she peaked through the blinds. Casting a sideways glance to her elderly comrade, he gave her a nebulous raise of the eyebrows and surveyed the trucks pulling up at the intersection below outside. Nishkakaaji let out a long exhalation.

“Longknives are gonna take the chance to run us all out of town.” He mused. “They know all the good Aazhagaameg are gonna be organizing in the countryside, so they want to keep us out of the cities.” He looked to her and turned off the television. “Get everyone ready.”

Wozha nodded. She rushed to the neighboring room, grabbing a rifle from their stockpile, checked the magazine, took note of the safety, and stormed out of the room. “Showtime, naschets!” She banged on doors going down the hallway, “Get in position, fuckers are right outside!”

She hurried down the stairs, flipping over a table and taking her position just like they had drilled. Comrades soon joined her, one setting down a box of spare magazines between them. Wozha took a few shaky breaths; she was sure the others were feeling just as terrified. She tried to think of something to say, a rousing speech before the final battle, like in the movies. Words failed her.

“Not one fucking inch.” The person beside her growled under the sound of shouts and footsteps. “We’ve given too much land to these bastards already. The Revolution can only be complete once the Seventh Fire is lit.”

“To the work that we must do.” Another said, earning exclamations from the others.

Crashes came from outside, gunshots mixing with the rush of flames and panicked screams as their comrades upstairs rained petrol bombs down on the would-be intruders. Bullets blasted through the windows and the door came down. Wazhko had barely pulled the trigger by the time the Bear Clan had another martyr.




Moienrout, Capital District, Walzenia

The woman looked directly into the camera, hands clasped neatly in front of her and a severe, pained expression painted on her thin face. The basement of a hospital had been done up with a few flags, and she sat at a desk and chair commandeered from the general administrator. All around her, people whispered in hushed, frantic tones, only to be shushed as the time arrived. Off to the side, a man began giving her a countdown from five as the teleprompter began scrolling.

“Comrades, neighbors, and my fellow Walzers.

It is with great remorse that I must inform you on this Christmas Eve of a terrible tragedy, an atrocity committed against our nation, or democracy, and our very values. At approximately 4:45pm, Moienrout time, an explosion occurred on the floor of the Congress, during an extended session to reach a vote on the Federal Indigenous Reparations Act. At this time, 231 of Congress’s 334 members have been confirmed dead, with another 47 in critical condition, and 22 unaccounted for. As some of you may have seen already, the Congress Building is currently in flames. There have been reports of attacks on multiple other federal buildings throughout Moienrout and state capitals, and the current situation is extremely uncertain.

It is for this reason that the remaining members of Congress have chosen to elect me, Minister of Defense Octavia Laberenz, as Acting Chancellor of the Waltch Federation, and have authorized the use of provisional emergency powers. I have been entrusted to defend the democratic and socialist values of this republic in its time of need, a duty which I intend to carry out with due diligence and extreme prejudice.

At this time, it is believed that the bombing was carried out by extremists associated with the Seventh Fire Front, the SFF, an Invictist terrorist group that I’m sure all Walzers are familiar with at this point. If there was any doubt before that the racist, authoritarian agenda of the Seventh Fire Front had no place in our republic, it can no longer be debated.

At this moment, the Bondeweier, federal reserves, and intelligence community are being mobilized to investigate, detain, and bring to justice the ones responsible for this atrocity and all who would support them.

We must stand together. Embrace your grief and allow it to make you stronger. To all enemies of Walzenia, to those who would threaten the principles of socialism and democracy, I have one thing to say: the Revolution will survive.”




Outskirts of Awbichon, Jenasie

Two men stood on a hilltop overlooking Lake Auburn, behind a low, nondescript concrete compound. A firepit smoldered with endless stacks of paper, reels of tape and film, even a few hard drives. Taking long drags on his cigarette, the taller of the two looked into the roaring flames with consternation. The bags under his eyes suggested that he hadn’t slept in days. The duo watched wearily as another man carried out another trashcan full of material and dumped it into the flames.

“So, they’re liquidating everywhere, huh?” The shorter one asked.

“We gotta.” The taller replied with exasperation.

“Guys up top have that little faith, huh?”

“They told her not to. Timing was all wrong.”

“But she was scared the next vote would be successful.”

“Bingo.”

They sat in silence a little longer.

“So what happens to us, chief?”

The taller man leveled a stormy grey gaze at the shorter one. “We shut the fuck up.” He said sternly. “Best case scenario, we just started a genocide.”

“And worst case?”

The tall man let out a short, stiff chuckle. A desperate, bitter sound.

“A civil war.”


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