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Risorgimento (Closed)

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Parthonopia
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Ex-Nation

Risorgimento (Closed)

Postby Parthonopia » Mon Jan 15, 2018 12:29 am

Any musical accompaniment with a post is meant to be listened to while reading as the posts are loosely timed to the songs for your reader of an average speed. Entirely optional of course. This is the complete story of Parthonopian Unification, or Risorgimento. Please enjoy!


"Lurido Viale"

Afternoon
City of Ancona
15th of March, 2012


A boy ran through a seemingly endless labyrinth of staircases and alleyways, weaving a path through the meat district on a course past buildings that were increasingly maintained as the heart of the city neared. In sandals, the straps so loose bare feet would have been more practical, the boy rounded the corner of la Strada Macellai and Via Pavone glancing down at the stained sidewalk in front of Sorentino's Butcher Shop for a brief second. To be able to run so smoothly down the narrow corridors of the streets of Ancona, or to even see so much of the decaying cobblestone paths, was a rarity in the bustling historical capitol. That was not to say that the typical local sort were not out in their customary hangouts, but the bulk of the city had already made their way down to Piazza Castello for the annual Feast of San Angelo. In the few years previous that the boy was old enough to roam the streets by himself, and more importantly panhandle on them in the neighborhoods uptown of his tenement, he found no interest in making his way to the festivities and parades of the feast which was one of many that Anconans would bring their dreary lives to a halt for three days for.

This was not the average Feast of San Angelo, however, as it coincided with an even more proportionately important event that scores of noblemen and their families along the coast and as far north as Fortezza Nuerro had come to attend. Even the ever present watchful eyes of the city, the elderly women who sat leaning out of their apartment windows, their garden baskets of herbs and vegetables below them, were not as prominent as any other given day where at least three could be seen observing the streets below from every building. Still racing towards the city center the boy was coming up behind one of these women who he recognized, a lady who must have been as old as the building she lived. As she would walk at a snail's pace everyday, to and from the Sorentino's butchery, she would give a quick wave and smile to everyone that she encountered as if she knew every last one them, all though having lived in the same squalor room on the same street for as long as she had there was a strong probability that she did know most of them.

"Buona pomeriggio, ragazzi," the woman shouted across the avenue in a hoarse whisper to a group of late teens who frequented the neighborhood. The boy who had slowed down almost to a walk as he approached her thought he had the quick opportunity to pass and hopped up on the stoop next to her to try and run past. In a heartbeat he found himself face first on the sidewalk, his ankle in the air above with the woman's cane still hooked around it. Just as quickly as he went down he hopped up before spitting out some blood where he had landed, shortly thereafter enduring a lecture about respecting his elders as his profusely apologized. With another 'gentle' whack of her cane on his thigh she told him to scurry off and the child was back off, sprinting with only the slightest of a limp.

After what seemed an eternity the boy was finally getting close to the event, he could hear the crowds in the distance and smell all of the meats being cooked out on the street. More and more citizens were congregated and the boy soon found himself squeezing through the masses as the people danced and drank, laughing all the while. Escaping the crowd into an alleyway, gated at the end, the boy wanted to try to gain a better view of the parade and hopefully find a route avoiding the crowds to make his way back home and hopefully finagle a bite to eat on his way there. He clasped the iron bars of the gate, looking up at the pointed tips at the top. Confident in his climbing skills, however, he shimmied his way up and over and soon found himself wandering more alleyways. As in all sections of Ancona the back corridors in between and behind buildings had a strong stench of human waste and the presence of rodents was more than apparent. Unphased, the alleys in his neighborhood having much more rotting in them than just a few heaps of garbage, the boy continued on happy to have gotten himself out of the crowd.

Rounding yet another corner he was faced with the first person since he had climbed the gate. It was a young man with a large black mustache in an Ancona Guard uniform. Spinning around to try and flee the sentry he was met quick with a response, "Oi! You little shit what do you think you're doing back here?!"

The boy stuttered, nervously shaking, as he tried to rebuke and attempted to explain how he was lost and only trying to go home. Once again the boy found himself face down on the cobblestone, this time from a backhand that sent him spinning before he crashed down. This time he was crying as he pulled himself, another kick in the stomach from the guard and he was fully standing sprinting out the way he came.

He could hear as he ran behind, "Get the Hell out of here now, ya bastard! I see you again it will be a closed fist knocking you on your ass and you won't get up."



A drum line pounded their instruments down the cobblestone streets, accompanied by a score of trumpets and the cheers of the crowd, clad in ceremonial dress. Their tall, puffy fur hats bounced along with their step, all the while the ever growing crowd shouting and singing, throwing old shredded newspapers in the air and out of apartment windows. Street vendors and performers weaved through the masses, each one desperately trying to squeeze what ever change they could get from the frugal, hard bargainers that is a Parthonopian customer. At the edge of the crowd, with a backdrop of dilapidated housing and storefronts, food merchants lined the perimeter of the festivities. Every butcher from la Strada Macellai was set up just outside of the archway entrance to the Piazza Castello, having carried tables and supplies down at the crack of the dawn. A generous gift from the Duke of Massa of two thousand pigs for the slaughter a week prior in honor of the Feast of San Angelo had provided for an influx of fresh meat for the three day fair; Anconans not being accustomed to such a large, available supply of meat that was not fish were ecstatic and chalked it up to a miracle blessing of San Angelo.

The prices of fish and chicken were slashed to a quarter of the standard, greater than the half off as per the usual tradition of the feast. Whole salted cods were being tossed about the crowd as elated customers threw coins at fish merchants. A mountain of severed chicken heads piled up at the foot of the statue of King Pietro il giusto as the butchers worked feverishly trying to keep up with demand. Some families were purchasing their meat for the next several months, taking advantage of the deals and the generous spirit of the San Angelo feast. Husbands danced with their wives in the road, young children at their feet and strings of sausages over their shoulders. The butchers from Sorentino's had brought a live pig down to the festival, old Roberto Sorentino himself auctioned it off while standing on a crate before butchering it right there in the street for the winner. It seemed as if everyone in the city was collected in the center as the horde grew, not a soul was eating at home that evening rather grabbing a taste of the finer things in life while it lasted. The crowd was getting rowdier as the afternoon went on, wine and ale merchants quickly selling out and making frequent trips to their shops and breweries to keep their tents stocked. Throngs of local boys were employed for the day scurrying back and forth hauling inventory; two dollars for the day and the boss would back them up if the boys got caught pick pocketing on their routes. The children that had a tad more haggling skills than rest were able to take a bottle or two of the swill home with them, or more than likely to the alleyway that many would congregate and sleep in.

At the heart of the excitement the band procession was passing through il Grande Arco di Trionfo. Directly trailing the band, protected by a contingent of the tallest Ancona Guardsmen adorned in iron chest plates and shining, creaseless kepis, the five foot tall clay depiction of the San Angelo stood riding a wooden stretcher carried by the four tallest Guardsmen. San Angelo, arms extended with his palms facing up, had a small, yet angelic smile on his face despite lacking several toes and his paint faded and chipping. Flower necklaces around his neck and a stack of pink Psilanthum flowers and gold coins scattered at his feet. A top his head was the core of the tradition of the feast, the glistening gold hat forged from the smelted wedding bands, bracelets, watches and earrings of a depressed and desperate for hope Anconan populace shortly after the end of the Parthonopian War of Succession. The Bishop of Ancona along with a retinue of priests and clergy followed the saint, burning incense in a swinging gold thurible censer. At the helm of the parade was another hundred Guardsmen, dressed to their best, marching at a ready arms stance, bayonets equipped. At the very forefront of the column, sword drawn and pressed to the right side of his chest, the man of the hour, the Duke of Ancona Carlo della Ancona. Smiling ear to ear Carlo trotted through the archway, flanked by his father in law as well as the commander of the Ancona Guardsmen.

The crowd cheered, not more than ten feet away from the procession on either side and only parting ahead of it as they approached. They threw their newspaper confetti and children would run up and toss flowers they picked at the statue of San Angelo. Carlo's father in law, the aging, yet ever cheerful, Duke of Massa Egidio Amalia was reaping the full rewards of the peoples enjoyment at his gift to the city. He tossed the glass of free wine to the ground as he finished the last sip and pulled off from the parade to grab some free fresh oysters. The young girl carrying a basket of them around her neck walked backwards ahead of the procession as she took her knife and cracked open an oyster for the Duke and poured some oil and vinaigrette into it.

Egidio sucked the oyster right down and turned to Carlo, "By God you must have one!"

The Ancona Duke seemed reluctant, perhaps questioning the formality of eating oysters while marching in a parade, but nodded in approval as the girl, now walking alongside the Duke of Massa, cracked open another. Carlo sheathed his sword and as she was about to pour in the sauce she excitedly let out, "Bouna fortuna!"

She presented the oyster to the Duke, Carlo took the offering to see a good omen, a little moving pea crab inside the oyster. As if his smile could have grown any more it did and he swallowed the delicious sign of good luck in one motion, a little bit of oil and vinaigrette dripped from his thick graying mustache.

The last of the crowd parted in front of the final gates to the Castello d'Cormor and the two Dukes, the Grand Captain Ongaro, and the cortege behind them were greeted by yet more Guardsmen who opened the towering wrought iron gates. As they entered the Guardsmen in the parade filled into rank and file on either side of the path into the banquet hall entrance of the seat of power in Ancona. The Grand Captain, the primary commander of the Ancona Guardsmen, Vico Bartolomeo Ongaro stayed behind as the rest of the group entered the banquet hall, crossing his arms behind his back and standing at attention facing the crowd as the gates closed. Ongaro was not a truly battle proven commander, having not seen much if any combat during his tenure, yet was an imposing figure and a trusted adviser of Carlo nonetheless. Just standing still, stone faced, he struck a chord of fear in the jubilant people in the crowd who caught eyes with him. Being a man of some height and size, especially for Parthonopian standards, only helped.

Inside of the Castello d'Cormor the Duke Carlo was meeting eyes with his lovely young wife and the rest of his sizeable family alongside her. The importance of this specific Feast of San Angelo, and the reasoning for the excessive festivities in comparison to previous years and especially when compared to the actual capabilities of the Duchy to sustain its people, was that it purposely coincided with the baptism of Carlo's last child, Victoria. In keeping with Parthonopian traditional practices of Verroism, it was a year after she was born that she would receive this sacrament. Victoria's timing on coming into the world on the 14th of March a year earlier prompted Carlo and his wife to celebrate her introduction into the Verro faith as part of the festivities of the yearly feast that takes place the day after.

The room was bustling with the elite of Ancona and neighboring states as well as the noblemen and women of the fiefs and states along the coast and as far north as Sassara in the Duchy of Logoduro. Carlo paid no mind to the prestigious crowd of his guests, however, only keeping his eyes trained on his young baby girl, swaddled in a blank in her mother's arms. The Bishop passed off the censer to a priest and walked along side Carlo to the head of the room where his family stood. On the banquet table in front them was a small bath, a bowl of ashes, a smudge pot with a hot coal in it, and the holy text of Verro. Clergy members were quickly igniting a fire of sage brush and the Psilanthum flowers offered to the saint in the burning pit in the center of the hall as the Bishop commenced with the baptismal ceremony. He read several passages and lead the congregation in a prayer before Carlo himself presented the Bishop with Victoria now out of her blanket and stark naked.

Holding his little girl in the air over the small tub the Bishop wet his fingers in the bath and then placed them in the bowl of ashes. Carlo's thoughts drifted momentarily, staring into the bowl of the remains of his father Vittore as the bishop spread them on his namesakes forehead. He came back quickly and was prompted to hand over Victoria, the Bishop taking her and dunking her underwater for ten seconds while chanting. Placing her on the table momentarily the faith minister picked up the hot coal from the smudge pot with his bare hand and dropped it into the bath, sizzling as it soaked a plume of smoke floated up and quickly dissipated. Chanting all the while, he picked up the baby and once again dunked her in the bath, this time for fifteen seconds before removing her, now crying, and applying another ash symbol on her forehead.

The hall erupted in excitement with the conclusion of the ceremony and the real feast began almost instantly. Carlo handed his daughter off to his wife, Eliza of Massa, with a peck on her cheek and smile before splitting off to mingle with his guests. He took a moment and looked down around him, surrounded by his family from his oldest first born son from his first marriage, Fillip, and his two siblings, Annamaria and Eduordo, to his four youngest born from Eliza, Michele, Cristoforo, Horatio and Victoria. He wondered how he could be so blessed gazing on his offspring when he looked up to a man who had helped provide him with the means for all of this.

"Congratulations, my Lord," A man who truly embodied the stereotype of a short, hairy Parthonopian said cheerily.

"Ignazio!" Carlo exclaimed as he embraced the man and kissed him on both cheeks, "You took good care of my wife and spawns, yes? Haha! Come now let's mingle and drink." Carlo placed his arm over Ignazio's shoulder and guided him towards the current source of attention, the buffet tables. Carlo did not stand much taller than Ignazio but the minor difference was enough for him to confidently impose that superiority on him as well. Ignazio, a man much younger than Carlo, lacked the gray hairs and some of the thickness in his mustache compared to the Duke and sported a cleanly shaven head that would gleam in the sunlight and in the Castello as well were it to have actually sufficient lighting. As the pair approached the food their path was obstructed by the appearance of an even further intoxicated and increasingly cheerful Duke Egidio.

"Carlo, mio fratello! That was a truly beautiful ceremony, son. Each grand baby you and my daughter give me is more beautiful than the last; I thought when four years ago I learned I was given healthy twin baby boys to carry on the line I could die right then and there."

Carlo's face was noticeably getting red, something that would always tend to happen when dealing with his father-in-law for an extended conversation after four in the afternoon. "Yes, thank you Egidio, you flatter me too much. It is your strong genes that made those boys though, not as far back as I can recount has a Ciaia born twins. But, anywho... Egidio have you met the Captain Friuli? Ignazio this is the Duke of Massa, Egidio my friend Ignazio."

Egidio slammed his hand on Carlo's shoulder, rather forcefully for the friendly gesture it was intended to be before taking it off and smacking Ignazio in the stomach with it lightheartedly, "Met him?! You seem to forget I gave him to you, ha! After, well, you know. With your first wife, yes, Luisa. Nonetheless! This boy is the son of a late, great and personally trusted Condottieri commander from back home. Bastard son but what can you expect from Condottieri," Egidio was laughing hysterically, Carlo less amused but chuckling if not at the joke at the very least at how boisterous the Duke of Massa could get. Ignazio grinned and brushed it off, in return patting Egidio on his shoulder.

"So, Carlo, how much did this set you back? Must be a hefty bill, especially with this guest list. Got something to prove to the nobles sonny? Haha!"

"Bah, well the least you both could do," Carlo replied glancing between Egidio and Friuli, "is to pray for rain, a strong one for a few days to clean the streets. If not I'll end up getting the guard out there with hoses and brooms cleaning up all of that pig shit and blood. Lord knows the Ancona coffers are lacking, soon enough I'll have to go into my own funds to upkeep the Guard. I personally bought the brand new kepis and breastplates for the Honor Guard in the parade."

Egidio grabbed two more glasses of wine off a platter a server walking by carried and quickly finished one before she walked away only to give it back and grab another, "Well you did spring to buy up all of the Condottieri from Sanluri to L'Aquila."

"That was Ignaio's idea," Carlo interjected, "and a brilliant one at that. Especially since outlawing the practice of Condottieri in Ancona and you doing so in Massa allowed us to capture a nice chunk of them and put them to work nearly for free. But listen, my friend, we need to be onward now. Eat, drink!" Carlo embraced Egidio and kissed him on his cheek, backing up for Ignazio to follow suit, "But listen! Do not sleep all day tomorrow, you will see why all of these people are here then."

"Bah, I thought that meeting was just some Feast formality! Is it truly that important do I really need to be there? You know I am an old man Carlo, this year I will have sixty-six years in this form, haha!"

"It is important, Egidio, and I need you there by my side. Drink up for now, I will see you in the morning."
Last edited by Parthonopia on Mon Jan 15, 2018 12:53 am, edited 1 time in total.

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Parthonopia
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Postby Parthonopia » Mon Jan 15, 2018 2:44 am

"Una Lacrima Furtiva"

Castello d'Cormor, Ancona
16th of March, 2012


It was evening time; long after supper was complete and the children were calmed down to be put to sleep. The work day was over, the men, and women, had returned home long ago and were resting in front of their television sets. The night shift workers were leaving their homes to attend to their jobs; for the most part the overview of the city of Ancona was a quiet and usual one. The second day of revelry in the name of the Feast of San Angelo was less raucous as the first and more focused on vending; celebrations were more spread out and took place strewn throughout the city. Outside the gates of the Castello d'Cormor and past the Grande Arco di Trionfo there was still a straggle of celebrators and merchants alike. Drunks wandered about taking turns stealing the contents of each other's pockets as they would pass out on the ground. The sentry Guardsmen posted in the Piazza Castello had their ranks bolstered for the duration of the feast as three times the manpower as normal was being utilized to corral the especially belligerent and the homeless loitering too close to the castle.

Ignazio Victor Friuli briskly walked down the halls of the castle once more, for what seemed to be the thousandth time this day alone, having been summoned to the office of Duke Carlo. The matter seemed to be of serious importance, Friuli had gathered from Carlo's tone of voice. Finally arriving at his destination he entered the closed door without knocking. The overhead light, and the various lamps throughout the study, did not seem to shine as bright as normal; but this was not the first dimly lit room Ignazio had visited that day.

The refined, middle aged Duke Carlo della Ancona sat behind a study desk fit for a king, dwelling on his thoughts. Looking to have aged a year in the matter of a day, his hair was grayer than normal and the bags under his eyes deeper and darker. He was noticeably exhausted; his clasped hands, which his chin rested upon, looked to be the only support from his head falling off of his neck. Yet the man had an air of power, he resonated strength from his aged being. His lungs reverberated with every breath he took. A man of only fifty-five but appears to be that of a man of ninety.

The room was grave, the silence could be cut with a knife. But no one dare spoke as there was an overwhelming awkwardness that was present. That was until the door swung open and Friuli entered where he was first met with the beautiful sight of Eliza Amalia of Massa, the young second wife of Carlo's. Her eyes perked up ever so slightly at the sight of Friuli, her cheeks glowing ever so redder than the shade of the blush she was wearing. With a curtsy, "Ignazio, it is a pleasure."

Smiling from ear to ear Friuli took her outreached arm, brought it to his mouth and planted a gentle kiss on the back of her hand, "Signora, the pleasure is truly mine. You are stunning today as always, Princepessa."

Blushing she let out a small laugh, waving Friuli off, "Always one to flatter I see."

Snapping up to his full height, sending his elegant, red Parthonopian leather, Marlow study chair sliding back, Carlo walked around the desk and firmly shook Friuli's hand. Placing his right hand on Friuli's shoulder he gestured to the empty chair in front of his desk with his left. Friuli sat down, nodding to Grand Captain Ongaro who was already seated to the right of the desk. Eliza remained standing, walking behind Friuli and gently placing her hands on the back of his chair, "I will leave you all to discuss in peace. It was nice to see you Ignazio," with a smile, " You as well Grand Captain."

"Thank you, Eliza, I will talk to you later," Carlo said as he sat back down, sliding up to the desk. He waited until the door latched behind her before speaking, his silence being the chief reason for the lack of dialogue among the three men present, once he had spoken the room grew a degree more vibrant.

"Ignazio I am sure you are aware of the meeting that took place this afternoon," Carlo said in a monotone voice, waiting for a response.

"Well, yes my Lord, I am aware but admittedly not of the details of what took place," It was true, in fact most of the city was aware of some sort of secret meeting taking place. The leaders of that many Parthonopian states would never travel to Ancona just for the baptism of some Ciaia baby girl. Even the Feast of San Angelo, albeit a unique practice of Anconan traditions, was not a big enough attraction for the Gold Duke of Logudoro and his first born to stay at an inn near the Cormor River for three days. Most Parthonopian states had similar feasts and celebrations and the practices at this feast were not so different or more exciting than any other. Carlo seemed to still be waiting for an answer, staring blankly at Friuli with a glare that could most likely burn through walls.

Ongaro sat nervously although one could not tell, the only visible sign was that he was crossing his legs; not a very apparent signal. He took turns looking back and forth from Ignazio and Carlo, looking between them for a moment in intervals. Carlo killed the silence again and spoke up, "You have an idea." Not much but enough of a prompt.

"I assume about the current circumstances of our respective states. Mounting loans and debts to foreign interveners more than a century later, a massive population boom, increased trade restrictions and tariffs. If not for that gift from Egidio who knows when the next time the average Anconan would have eaten swine?"

"All of these things are true. But only just scrape the surface... why were you not there today?"

Friuli was leaning forward in his seat and furrowed his brow, a little perplexed at the almost accusatory statement coming from what is almost he oldest friend and at the very least longest term employer. "My Lord, I have been very busy with security for the feast, and all of these dignitaries are prime targets for some hefty ransoms. Nor, my Lord, was I instructed or informed I was expected to attend, by all means you kn-"

Carlo quickly interrupted Friuli who seemed to appear the slightest bit flustered, "Quit with the my Lord shit right now. You know what the goal of that meet was even if it wasn't told to you. And you should have known to be there, also if it wasn't told to you."

Friuli sat back in the chair and swallowed before clearing his throat. "Yes, of course. I just do not want to sound a fool, but this was not an attempt at unifying some of the coastal states?"

"Beyond the coast, boy. You know that is what we have been preparing for, or we have been preparing for years of civil unrest when the loans run out and food shortly thereafter within the next two years. The Parthonopian people's only hope is in unification."

"Risorgimento," Ongaro chimed in, clearing his throat as he spoke, "the reunification of the Parthonopian people. My father loved the stories of the original unification after the collapse of the Salian Parthonopian Kingdom. He loved to tell them to me more, it was in those accountings that I think I got my first taste for war."

Both Carlo and Ignazio were looking at the Grand Captain, eyes slightly widened at the first words from Ongaro during the whole meeting so far. Judging from his expression it seemed that unless he was directly called upon it was probably the last ones he would speak until departing. But the meeting seemed to be on the right track and Carlo was appearing to have a bit more pep to his expression than when Friuli had come in. Carlo, after a brief collection of his thoughts, began to speak, "Yes! Risorgimento. But it does not matter now anyways, those damned fools here today would not get on board. They fear the international backlash. They lack a backbone."

"Did part of this unification process involve you or someone else becoming the supreme leader of this, uh, commonwealth?" Friuli inquired.

Carlo raised an eyebrow at the question, opening his mouth to respond defensively but quickly refraining, "Yes, Ignazio, it did. I would be King and rightfully so being the direct descendant of the last one. That was a sour point for some of them, not for the Duke of Massa of course or his affiliate states. But even Egidio, that drunk fool, walked away not in support. He says now is not the time, we are too weak," Carlo was angering himself as he thought about it and spun the chair around facing the window, shaking his head as he did so.

Friuli jumped from his chair and saluted Carlo, although he was not looking, and said to him, "Vostra Maestà, I will follow you to the ends of the Earth and would die for you or this country. Every Parthonopian dreams of being able to take pride in their homeland and have a nation to call their own. Risorgimento is long overdue and I believe you to be the man capable of bringing it about. Whatever you wish of me to do to help, I will fulfill to my utmost abilities."

Carlo slowly rose from the chair and turned around to face Friuli. He gave him a somber smile and placed his right hand on his cheek, giving it a gentle pat and then a pinch between his pointer and middle finger knuckles, "Ignazio, you are a smart boy and have been a tremendous help for me so far in your career. You sit here, however, and have my ear because of the tremendous thing you had done for me so many years ago. I was in you debt for your deeds, but that debt has been paid ten fold many times over. Yet you remain in my council, why is that?" Carlo paused briefly as if to actually receive an answer but quickly continued speaking, proving the rhetorical nature of the question, "You are still here because you are wise beyond your years and well capable beyond what anyone would expect of your abilities. If not for the tragedy that brought you to my employ, I would never have requested your aid and your seemingly natural abilities and high aptitude for leadership would have been neglected. You would still be a Condottieri scum fighting women and merchants on the country roads or you would be rotting in Carcere Carica and probably a sodomite. I say all of this because that is not the case."

"In order to attain success as a great leader there are some necessities. The first being il Carattere, the natural traits of leadership, strength, loyalty and morals." Carlo was pacing around the room at this point, talking directly to Friuli but not looking at him, rather at the collections of books and other relics. Stopping to blown some cobwebs off the small wooden carved bust of Emperor Salius, he picked it up and tossed it about in his hands lightly, as if he was mentally weighing it. "The second trait necessary is la Fortuna, good fortune and luck. It is impossible to succeed with out it and shamefully not everyone possess it. Lastly, and what I believe is the most important trait; the deciding factor between a simple leader of men and a powerful, commanding authority. le Opportunità. Opportunity must present itself, if it does not you were not destined or blessed to receive it in the first place. If it does, well you damned well better answer it."

Carlo put the bust back on the shelf it had come from and crossed his arms behind his back as he walked in close towards Friuli who was still standing, "My point, Ignazio, is that I have il Carattere and la Fortuna. This looming era of crisis, the millions upon millions of unexpected Millenials, the increasing endless debts, civil unrest, you! You and all of these things, these are le Opportunità."

Friuli finally smiled, relieved albeit still the slightest bit uncomfortable. Perhaps Carlo had spent too much time with his father-in-law with the over exaggerating expressing of emotions rubbing off. Carlo was sitting back down, now making laser eye contact with Friuli. Friuli spoke up, surprised he did not have to clear his throat, "I am yours. Tell me what needs to be done and it will be."

"Bellisima! I think a tried and true method is the best way and I have a plan roughly how to do so. This will start with you two bulking up our forces. The strongest opponent today was of course the Gold Duke Fiorino, but I doubt he will be such a loud contender if Fortezza Nuoro were to fall."

"It is agreed, Vostra Maestà, I will get to it immediately."

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Postby Parthonopia » Mon Jan 15, 2018 4:10 am

"Ritorno al Nero"

Early Morning
Castello d'Cormor, Ancona
23rd of March, 2012


Cigarette smoke clouded the poorly lit conference room yet somehow the air smelled overwhelmingly of strong, dark coffee. The room seemingly cramped and stuffy was only so due to the dark, rustic aesthetics and poor ventilation; there were no windows as the room was deep within the interior of the ancient castle. The walls were lined half way up with an oak sill, cedar wainscoting panelling below it, both finished with a dark stain. The plaster above the sill was painted Parthonopian blue but in the low illumination spreading from the overhead light in the center of the room the walls looked to be black voids on all four sides. At the center of the room was an antique wooden dining table, seating enough for six, littered with ashtrays, maps, papers and coffee cups. Three men were gathered in the room; Ignazio Friuli, at this moment acting as a Field Marshal, along with Vico Bartolomeo Ongaro who was recently promoted to Marshal and the Grand Captain of the Massan Army, Cecilio Di Pietro.

Friuli had slept for little more than an hour the previous night, having been anxiously pacing and constantly refreshing his message que after receiving more detailed plans for Parthonopian unification from the Duke Carlo della Ancona. Despite his lack of sleep it wasn't visible on him, comparatively to the Grand Captain Cecilio Di Pietro whose eyes were bloodshot, his right hand, gripping a cigarette, subtly shaking hovering over an ashtray. Di Pietro was another tall man by Parthonopian standards, but lanky and poorly defined; if seen in public outside of his uniform he would not strike some one as a military man. Yet it was not Di Pietro's feats of strength or skill in combat that earned him the highest ranking military command in the Duchy of Massa. If anything Cecilio was an armchair general, a cunning strategist and logistical expert. What he lacked in charisma and bravado he more than compensated for with his unique and well crafted insights in sustaining, arming, and equipping a force in all but favorable conditions. This was not say to say that he is a man to run at the sight of combat either, being an applauded hero during a small skirmish in a fishing village in Massa against a rogue Condottieri band. The Grand Captain Di Pietro stood shoulder to shoulder with his troops, armed only with his officer's sabre, and dished out orders and instructions right from the center of the combat.

Everyone in the room had just finished reading the communique from the Duke Carlo for the first time, save for Friuli who had read and re read it several times over the past hours since it was received. The words were haunting, the tension in the room thicker than the clouds of smoke. Friuli having felt the same emotions several hours previous had time to collect his thoughts and manufacture a response to the call to arms. He studied the men in the room to gauge their reactions; Ongaro was leaned back in his chair seemingly unphased, Di Pietro although expressionless in his face was leaned farther forward than before and was reaching for his cigarette case while one was hanging from his mouth still burning ever closer to his mustache.

"This means it is time to take action," Friuli spoke, addressing the group, "the gauntlet has been thrown down and the Duke in Sassara has made his intentions clear"

"Surely they know we are not going to yield," Ongaro interjected, "so what is our course of action from here?"

Friuli chuckled softly to himself briefly before responding, "It is good you cut to the chase, Bart. If the coastal nobles refuse to back us because of a fear of defeat, a major victory will turn them quick. The Gold Duke is a staunch opponent because he feels safer with foreign carpetbaggers lining his pockets then a unified Parthonopia. What props him up is his alliance with Fortezza Nuoro. Who ever holds that fort owns the key to central Parthonopia. Every territory south of that point would clamor to join us and an eventual excursion into Cisparrania and the Marches north of the Etulia River would not be too far off. The world was bound to witness the might of this Parthonopian Legion at some point and what better use of those troops out there than to dispel those who threaten us within our own borders?"

At this moment Ongaro too was sitting at the edge of his seat, elbows firmly planted on the table. Ongaro was the foremost authority on the drilling and training of the Anconan Guardsmen for the past near decade. With a recent influx of Condottieri bands from the Ancona, Massa and Ventotene regions, Ongaro had overseen the development of the battle readiness of the troops bivouacked in and around Ancona. To this end Ongaro was more than eager to take the full responsibility of the skill, or lack thereof, of the Legion as a fighting force in battle.

Di Pietro snuffed out his cigarette, rattling the ashtray on the table as he did so, waiting a short moment before lighting another. The fuss seemed to irritate Ongaro who was watching Di Pietro intently. When Cecilio lit his cigarette and tossed the lighter onto the table Ongaro snapped at him, talking to Friuli while staring directly at Di Pietro, "And what is this asparagus stalk have to do with anything?"

The ash on Di Pietro's cigarette was long and overdue to be tapped into the ashtray. He took another long, smooth drag and leaned in tapping the ash off over Ongaro's shoes, "My Lord, the Duke of Massa, may or may not be providing you two with me and the Massan Army. Perhaps he is, but perhaps not... he should be here any moment." Di Pietro thought back on the long stressful night he had, rushing to get to Anconan on little to no sleep and being forced to drink with his Duke upon arrival until he managed to sneak off and gain a few hours of shut eye. While Di Pietro's eyes were bloodshot from a lack of sleep, after that ashing antagonizing the Marshal Vico Bartolomeo Ongaro's eyes were bloodshot with anger. His fists were clenched had it not been for the new entry into the room he would have been on top of that sniveling, stretch of man in a heart beat.

The eccentric Duke of Massa saved Grand Captain Di Pietro's life for the time being with his grand entrance and a slightly slurred anecdote, something he was famous for giving even when unwanted or appreciated, "Ragazzi! Good morning, it smells wonderful in here, yes? Haha! You know when I was a boy my grandfather, he would come into my room, my grandfather he would do this, he would come into my chamber and he would rip open the curtains and tear my sheets off the mattress as I laid there! Truly, haha! He would do this, all this, at first light. The chickens aren't even up yet, haha! And he would say, every time I swear to you," the already near elderly man attempted to do his interpretation of the voice of an elderly man to really drive home the story, "Egidio! Youa like a the pigs! Haha! Youa sleepa all day!"

Egidio laughed as he took a seat, not really grasping the tension in the room or the glaring eyes focused on him, "Ignazio! You dirty bastard, haha, you haven't been trying to make my Grand Captain here a sodomite while you all were in the room alone together? Were you haha?" Egidio tapped Friuli's chest with the back of his hand a few times and gave a pinch on the cheek before Ongaro interjected, his annoyed demeanor clearly present in his voice.

"Let us get to the business now please. Thank you."

Egidio turned to Ongaro, the smile and constant laugh quickly traded in for a serious, open mouthed expression. That was until he spoke, laughing from the moment he began to form a sentence, "Mi dispiace Signore Stone Faced killer, haha! I would hate to make your day even the slightest bit pleasant. Haha." Egidio was laughing hysterically at this point but Ongaro once again quickly shut him up, this time for good.

"You should have your physician check you for Tourette's. Or maybe a fucking brain tumor? Every sentence, it ends with haha, haha, haha," the maddened Marshal mockingly imitated the Duke of Massa.

Everyone was silent for a second before Friuli and Di Pietro quickly tried to back peddle and deescalate the situation, but Egidio, whose breath already had a slight odor of liquor, was quick to rebuke, "So, boy, you want to cut to it then? Then lets have it; I have been mulling over whether or not to entrust the entire of my armed force to a couple of upstart Anconan cunts and leave my home and my wife defended by Condottieri. So I come back to Ancona, the third time this month mind you, to engage in some talks and hash out a plan. What am I met with?!" Egidio was out of chair and his wrinkly, bony pointer finger was extended pointing into Ongaro's face, "A boorish, disrespectful wishful commander want to be who attempts to offend me? Haha! I don't think so, nor would I ever hand over those boys to you. And I have not a care how many promotions you have been given or who calls you Marshal."

The Duke turned to exit but was stopped by Friuli who rose from his chair and put himself between the doorway and the Duke, "Wait! Egidio, as an old friend to me, please hear me out. Ancona can foot the bill on the Condottieri you must hire to defend Carrara!"

The Duke nodded appreciatively, "That is a start."

"And the Massan Army would remain under my command, not Ongaro's until their return. On top of that their wages will be paid for by our coffers, and the equipment you provide them reimbursed for you. Also I will personally have ten barrel of the finest vintage wine I can come across delivered to your villa in Carrara." Friuli was hopeful his sale pitch had worked out, having been forced to just throw his cards down in a last ditch effort brought on by Ongaro's comment.

Egidio was nodding his head back and forth, appearing to be thinking it over, when he responded in a matter of fact manner, "Alright, the five thousand men of the Massan Army will make a great addition to this Parthonopian Legion Carlo has a such a hard-on for creating. But know I do not do this as a favor to you. This is a gift to my grandbabies."

Ongaro perked up at the sound of this, a grin slowly creeping on his shaved leathery face. Friuli smiled as well and with a nod to Ongaro continued, "I could not thank you enough, my Lord. Whether or not those boys will have to face any combat is only a question time can answer but I swear to you they will do right by your name and that of your Duchy. Thank you for coming in Duke Egidio, it is always a pleasure."

Both Friuli and Ongaro were now standing, Ongaro grinning widely now slapped Friuli on the shoulder and said, "We will enter Fortezza Nuoro, sir, in two months time. Invited or not."

Friuli shook Ongaro's hand, "A garrison in Nuoro solidifies the future of Parthonopia. We will begin preparations to mobilize tomorrow, in the interim I will need you on top of drilling and organizing our current force. If we are walking into a war those boys damn well better be ready for it."

The two men still shaking hands as Ongaro said with the deepest sincerity, "Thank you Friuli, I will not let you down."

"I am sure you won't, after all you the know the capabilities of these men better than even I."

All four of the men were shuffling their way out the door at this point, exchanging embraces and a series of handshakes leaving Friuli the last man left in the hallway after the rest dispersed.

"Ignazio," uttered the sweet gentle voice above him, as he looked up from locking the door to be greeted by Eliza Amalia with a smile on her face. Friuli was caught up for a moment looking into the seemingly endless expanse of her crystal blue eyes before he regained focus and answered her.

"Princepessa, how wonderful to see you," Friuli said with a massive grin as he leaned in to kiss her on the cheek.

"You shouldn't do that," she said almost emotionless as she backed away from from Ignazio's peck, "I, I also don't think you should call me that anymore. It's misrepresenting, a bit too affectionate." She had stepped back a few paces now as Friuli stood frozen where he was when she rejected his advance.

"I apologize my Lady, I did not wish to offend. I pray you know that," Ignazio stepped in a bit closer to Eliza who didn't continue to retreat, "I suppose I am a bit excited for the upcoming change in status we will all be receiving."

Eliza erupted at this moment and hit Ignazio in his chest several times as she shouted, "What do you mean status change! That is why my father was here right? You're going to make Carlo a King are you?"

Friuli was bewildered but stopped the barrage of punches on his chest, grabbing Eliza by the wrists. He was once again caught up looking into her eyes, this time briefly and with a much different vision being cast by them. He quickly released her arms, accepted an instant smack and stepped back two steps, "He hasn't talked to you?"

"You are going to get yourself killed for that man long before he dies of old age, rich and powerful off of your blood." Eliza spun around marched down the hallway and out of sight leaving Friuli completely alone with the events of the last five minutes on replay in his mind.
Last edited by Parthonopia on Mon Jan 15, 2018 10:38 am, edited 1 time in total.

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Postby Parthonopia » Tue Jan 16, 2018 10:43 am

"Rabbia e Tarantella"

Midday
Carcere Carica, Fortezza Nuoro
3rd of May, 2012


A rather scrawny man in a brown, short sleeved jumpsuit and gray, lace-less loafers gave a bow to a seated Ignazio Friuli as presented him with tray with three fresh cups of coffee upon it, each on a decorative plate accompanied with a cantucinni cookie. Ignazio graciously took a cup off the tray and studied the array of tattoos revealing themselves past the sleeve on the man as he turned to the Grand Captain Di Pietro for the same offer. The man handed the last cup to Ignazio and Cecilio's host, gently placing it on his desk, before placing the platter under his arm and exiting the office.

"Signore Pancrazio, the coffee, it is truly delicious," Di Pietro attempted at starting a conversation, raising his cup to his host, the Warden of Carcere Carica.

"Please, call me Cino. But I assume you two did not travel from the coast just to enjoy some coffee brewed by a convict. Come now, what do you to wish discuss?"

Di Pietro was instantly regretting taking a bite into the rock hard almond biscuit and hurriedly chewed it down without trying to offend the Warden Pancrazio. Friuli's mouth, however, was not full having refrained from eating the cookie for just that reason. He quickly interceded into the conversation, "Well my Lord, as you already know we have quite the camp with us out there. We came up here with the sole purpose of trying to strike a bargain, sir. Something of mutual benefit to the both of us, of course." Friuli added a smile with his last sentence to try and further drive home his sales pitch.

Pancrazio placed his hands on the back of his head as he leaned back in his chair, some of the color restoring his face, "I must say that is quite the relief to hear at the least. A force that size from many fiefs away does not spell out for good fortune to come. So tell me, what could be so mutually beneficial for the Cartere Carica, an Anconan captain, and a Massan general?"

"Good you ask, that force out there is largely just our bargaining chips. Roughly thirty-five hundred prisoners, mostly the last of any coastal Condottieri and rapers and thieves from Ancona and Carrara."

Pancrazio raised an eyebrow in what seemed like an indication of interest but rebutted nonetheless, "What makes you think I want more prisoners? You saw some of the facility on your way in here, we already have fifteen thousand of those miscreants in here, another seven call it home down at Omo."

"I only ask for a reasonable trade, Cino. Let me ask, how many prisoners do you have in work camps in the mines out in Logudoro? Or spread out among the Put out manufacturing sites throughout Fortezza Nuoro?" Pancrazio had his arms crossed in front of his chest at this point, his leg shaking nervously under his desk, but had no response leaving Friuli to continue, "We want to give you all three thousand of the captives, leave it to you to determine the sentencing, and leave us hands free of them, yours to do as you wish. All we ask in return is a fair trade equivalent in the form of the goods these same prisoners will make ten times more of for free. What we drastically lack as an armed force down at the coast is proper small arms weaponry and munitions. If I'm not mistaken, a solid floor of this place is just an armory and munitions factory correct?"

Pancrazio stroked his chin and sucked in his bottom lip, calculating each point given to him with a fine tooth comb. At long last he clapped his hands and pointed upwards as spoke, "These are some terms we can agree with, I believe. Depending upon the quantity of what you are looking for it will be about a month and a half before you will receive shipments in Ancona."

"No," Friuli said sternly, "we wish to settle this as soon as possible. You should have in this facility alone enough weaponry to fulfill the demand. This way we can be on our way by tomorrow evening and part paths completely, that is unless we return with even more rapscallions. Here is the catch on this deal, however Cino," each time he said his name he emphasized the pronunciation, purely to test how far he could push the man, "you agree to this and that frightening rabble will be gone by morning; let us be quartered in Omo Castello for the night. Any expenses will be entirely reimbursed as well as interest."

Friuli extended his hand out to the Warden's for a hand shake to seal the deal, Pancrazio was reluctant to accept however. Friuli did not pull his hand back before staying, "So what do you say?"

One last moment of contention as he pondered the offer for the last few seconds before meeting Friuli half way and firmly shaking his hand, "I cannot promise you completely yet, I will have to get permission from command in Fortezza Nuoro but make no thought that it will be denied. They are already aware of your presence in the area and were expecting a fight or a trade. Thank Beo it was the latter."

*****


"Lord Beo help me! Please have mercy!"

Rifles cracked all around, similarly to the flames in the massive bonfires set in the courtyards of the Carcere Carica. Thousands of liberated prisoners danced and chanted gathered in front of the gallows in the main yard of the massive prison complex. Parthonopian Legionnaires, baring the new rifles they had been given for the trade that preceded the riot which fell Fortezza Nuoro's prized correctional facility, lined the perimeter of the crowd. They watched on as many of the newly freed convicts stripped naked and burned their uniforms in the fires which were also serving as a funeral pyre for the many guards of Carcere Carica who had been mercilessly put to death by inmates and Legionnaires alike.

Dusk was coming over the crowd as Cino Pagnazio stood on the deck of the gallows he had been upon many times before, only this time with his hands tied behind his back and armed inmates escorting him to the center atop the latch before fastening the noose around his neck. He was frantically balling, snot dribbling from his nose as he uselessly pleaded for his life, "Please! Stop, what have you done!" The biggest regret of his life would be his last one; it was not an hour past the moment Cino watched in delight as the remainder of the force that knocked on his door that morning disappeared down the road, carting off the large majority of Carcere Carica's armaments, that the rabble they had given him in exchange showed their true intentions. Having spread some through the remaining vacancies in the jail housing, the rest was left in the main yard where they would be encamped until divvied up and spread out through work programs and camps in neighboring fiefs. The initial prospects of the deal were tremendous, Cino had already sold half of the new prisoners in his mind to mining camps in Logudoro to make back the investment of the thousands of rifles he had given away.

Now the business end of one of those very rifles was prodding Pagnazio's back forward as the noose was tightened, "You will all BURN for this," Cino said through tears. His former inmates heckled him and threw trash at him, some even feces, as he stared down at the mass of rapists, murderers and thieves he had bought and sold like cattle. The battle for the prison was quick and some would not even grant it the status of a battle as it was barely a fight; the prisoners brought in in the morning incited a riot by noon, assisted by the current occupants as they learned of their captors extreme lack of firepower. All of which was enough of a distraction for a chunk of the Anconcan army to show back up and topple the command of the prison over.

A hush fell over the crowd as they all looked up to their commander and liberator, Ignazio Victor Friuli, who raised a clenched fist in the air until there was complete silence. He was joined on the stage with Di Pietro, Ongaro and a handful of Ancona Guardsmen, these ones actually in a uniform. Cino Pagnazio stood at the center of the platform they were all on but Friuli commanded all of the attention at this moment. At the other end of the stage, waiting eagerly by the lever, was the same sunken-eyed server who had handed the three other men coffee in the morning. Now he was shirtless and vibrant with energy, hand on the crank ready to drop Pagnazio, no hood on his head to hide his identity as the executioner on this day.

"Men of Parthonopia! A day of reckoning is upon you," Friuli rallied the crowd, the men before him letting out a righteous shout which thundered through the complex. As they all settled down quickly for Friuli to continue he once again spoke, "le Opportunità! It is upon all of us! Right here, right now. Opportunity and fortune have not knocked on your door today," as he paced along the front of the deck, staring intensely into the crowd, "NO! It has kicked in that door! Then it shattered your shackles, punished your oppressors, and cast away your trespasses."

Friuli had moved to the center of the stage and laid his hands out gesturing towards Pagnazio who had stopped crying for a moment, "I called you all, to start out, Parthonopians. I do this because we are more than just the city we come from, more than the noble whose land we were born on. We are all one people, we are all of one nation! And in that nation, slavery has no part in it. Our first step, to freedom not just as an individual, but as a people starts here!"

Friuli stomped his foot and the lever was pulled, the crowd erupting in cheers as Pagnazio dropped and was left dangling, his body squirming and his legs violently thrashing, "Now! That which has set you free demands only a minor sacrifice in return; as you have been liberated from your oppressors so must the entirety of our home. Parthonopia must be free, its century old shackles must be discarded. I say Parthonopia is for Parthonopians to rule, and we all will see it through!"

The crowd went wild at this point and the flames in the fires seemed to double in size as a chant could be heard across the valley:

"Partha para Partha!"

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Postby Parthonopia » Thu Jan 18, 2018 3:06 pm

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"L'Arena"

Early Morning
South of Faustino, Fortezza Nuoro
6th of May, 2012

The first rays of sunlight of the day glistened off the canvas tents, wet with dew, that blanketed the valley. The scent of burning wood from the trails of smoke of many small campfires scattered throughout the bivouack wafted through the air. Smoke dissipated into the canopy cover of the trees which were increasingly plentiful along the main post road through Fortezza Nuoro, the only route to the city namesake of the fief. The morning mess was well underway, some having started even before sunup; cans of beans and vegetables from the kitchen reserves at the Carcere Carica warmed in the fires alongside pots of rabbit stew or rice. The camp was abuzz as those not tending to breakfast collapsed their shelters or continued whatever tasks they were dealt. There was no uniformity to the dress of the soldiers encamped there, nor a seemingly obvious chain of command beyond the commanders who had stayed inside the previous night, lodged up in the farmhouse nearby and temporarily displacing its current occupants.

The men, many still clad in the brown prison jumpsuits they had been wearing prior to their early release, formed a coalition of forces intent upon reaching the fortress stronghold of Fortezza Nuoro. At the head of the beast that was the 8,500 man strong army was Field Marshal Vico Bartolomeo Ongaro, accompanied by the Grand Captain Cecilio Di Pietro and a third of his Massan troops. The first full day after the fall of Carcere Carica was spent taking an inventory of the spoils, from the crates upon crates of machetes made there to the fresh recruits. For Ongaro, however, that day was also spent urging Friuli to give him the liberty to take a chunk of their force assembled there and to march them to Fortezza Nuoro and begin setting up a siege. At long last Ongaro was granted the permission and was given full reign of five thousand of the former inmates as well as 1700 men-at-arms from both the Anconan and Massan Guards. His orders were to march north and start preparing for a lengthy siege of the stronghold, the first time in over a century the citadel city had been under one. Albeit not the first siege on Fortezza Nuoro, but if successful would be first to see the city fall.

Ongaro now found himself in the small kitchen and dining area of a farmhouse off the Via Nuoro Imbucare, surrounded by the captains of his army corp. He was leaned back in his chair, his leg crossed over the other, reading a month old newspaper that had been on the table, Di Pietro to his right at the table with his back to the wall. The farmer's daughter weaved through the gathered soldiers and placed a bowl of oatmeal and a plate of sausages next to Ongaro's coffee in front of him. He gave the young woman a wink as he grabbed a sausage off the plate and said, "Grazie, signorina," before smacking her rear as she shuffled off to her sister and father at the back of the room.

Chewing rather obnoxiously as he shouted to the people whose home he had garrisoned, "Now then, out with you! Its time for the men to talk, yes," waiting as the family exited the back door of the ranch he continued to the assemblage of straggly looking fellows who stood in front him, "you boys, I have been told, have some warring or drilling experience. Condottieri captains, some of you. Whatever it may be, you have left some sort of impression on those you share your bondage experience with. I have had my men gain some information the past few days from the rest of the Carica cons with us and they mentioned you all as leadership figures. So, there we have it!"

Ongaro was studying the occupants of the room, scanning his surroundings looking from the several inmates in front of him to the Anconan and Massan officers strewn sporadically through the space, "Now we are all brothers in arms, boys. Those fresh ones out there need some leadership and lots of drilling; you all will help me with this. Two of you will be blessed with the opportunity to call yourself Captain, one of you I've heard a bit about. A Signore Rizzo?"

A somewhat scrawny man, his smaller stature exemplified by the baggy clothes of a farmhand much larger than him that he wore, stepped forward and knelt down before Ongaro, "My Lord, Marshal Ongaro, I am in your debt. How can I serve you?"

"Signore Rizzo, once captain of a pretty sizable Condottieri band. Tell me, boy, you have killed many men?"

Rizzo scoffed and replied, "More than a few, sir. Three of them are what landed me in Carica and I was so graciously allowed to be the one to pull the lever on old Cino Pagnazio, but I wouldn't count that one."

"I thought you looked familiar," Ongaro said with his own scoff, "but a few assassinations does not make you a commander."

Ongaro had intended to continue speaking, not sure what his point exactly was going to be but he enjoyed the clearly apparent authority he wielded over these men. Before he could get his next thought out, however, he was interrupted as Captain Tomasso Rossi, an underling of Di Pietro's Massa contingent, busted into the room with a frantic look upon his face, "The scouts made contact with the enemy north of Faustino. The entire Nuoron army is headed there and then some. They were not positive but it looks like the Duke of Logudoro is with him, as well his sons, but their army is most certainly there."

The energy of the room took a turn for the worse and everything was still, save for Rossi with all the eyes in there trained on him. As Rossi finished the room fell completely silent for a moment as he stood pale faced and widemouthed awaiting a response. Ongaro plucked another sausage off the plate before him and took a large bite. Placing the rest of the link back down and swallowing he answered the flustered Captain and anxious audience with a cool and collected tone, "How far out are they, Captain?"

"Almost to Faustino, sir, even if we left immediately they would beat us to the crossing south of the town. If we wait for them they should be here by noon."

Ongaro finished his sausage and nonchalantly shrugged his shoulders. In reality he had been dreaming of this moment, eagerly awaiting its arrival for as long as he could remember, but did not outwardly show it. He needed to maintain a confidence in front of the men but not seem overly excited to put them in harms way, "It would appear that the Parthonopian Legion will meet the infamous Nuoron Grenadiers today. Time to move is now, they just gave us the Fortezza by meeting us in the field!"

Ongaro jumped up out of his seat and began dishing out orders, first to Di Pietro to delegate further; Rossi would have his regiment divided and each half supplemented back to full strength with former convicts. From there both regiments would leave camp first traveling west of the road to arrive at Faustino south of the creek shortly after the bulk of the force would arrive along the road. The officer cadets from the prison camp were still standing in the center of the room awkwardly awaiting orders of their own. Ongaro walked over to Rizzo who was still on his knee and gestured for him to stand up, "Now, boy, Paolo right? Pick a mate from this crowd, one you believe has the best capabilities to lead those men, and not to their death. I will trust your judgement, but be quick."

Rizzo looked back and forth and settled his gaze on two men who stood at the back of the crowd. Their eyes meet, the one furthest away and leaned against the wall shook his head and nudged the man next to him forward with his shoulder. Rizzo turned back to Ongaro who was intensely staring into his face and said, "Uh, Madala sir! Luis Madala there," Rizzo pointed at the man who had been pushed forward by his friend, "he trained with the Grenadiers. Didn't make it of course but not for lack of skill, sir. Another Condottieri captain as well."

"Beautiful," Ongaro replied and gave Rizzo an almost gentle slap and pinch on the face, "Madala!" Ongaro shouted over to the man pointing at him, "You will go with the Captain Rossi here and command the other half of his force. Listen to his officers they know those men, but the prisoners are yours."

Ongaro slapped Rizzo's face a few more times and placed his hand on his shoulder as he turned to the rest of the room and shouted, "Don't let me down boys! We will either be sleeping inside Fortezza Nuoro tomorrow or buried in Faustino tonight!"

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Postby Parthonopia » Fri Jan 19, 2018 5:22 pm

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"Il Rantolo"

Mid Morning
Faustino, Fortezza Nuoro
6th of May, 2012

Villagers fled north of the town in droves, clutching whatever belongings they could carry as the ranks of the Logudoron Army filed down the road in the opposite direction. They were accompanied by the entire might of the garrison of Fortezza Nuoro, clad in red and adorned in high fur hats with cloth tops and ornamental front plates brandishing the coat of arms of the fearsome, elite force. A pride of the people, their bravery and ferocious skill in battle was known all across Parthonopian; during the Great Olympian Wars the Fortezza Grenadiers served alongside the Produzland Imperial Army under General Agostinho Matheus, never suffering a single defeat their entire tenure. Even in the case of army losses on the behalf of Produzland, many patriotic Parthonopian countrymen attributed the defeats to not utilizing the Grenadiers or doing so improperly. Their presence emboldened the Logudoron troops as the mixed regiments funneled through the streets of the town toward their determined positions. Even the Gold Duke of Logudoro, Giullame Fiorino, was mildly comforted by the sight of the lines of Grenadiers that ran past en rout to the tree line just north of the marsh.

The Duke Giullame Fiorino was briskly walking down the poorly paved road at the northeast entrance into town, his three sons and the Nuoron commanders in toe. The entire entourage clattered as they walked, each of them garbed in a more impractical and ornate fashion. Giullame was the most egregious perpetrator as the sheathe to his saber with the jewel encrusted handle and gold hand guard clanged his thigh while sunlight reflected off the gold coat arms across his bright chest plate. His sons were attired similarly, however in the order of descending age each less regally than the last. Giullame's oldest son, Paolo Fiorino, wore a similar chest plate as his aging father and wielded the Fiorino family's only other household sword on his hip. The blade was supposedly owned by his great grandfather, many times over, and used in battles by Fiorino's from the Battle of Parria in the middle ages to the Battle of Maletra during the Olympian Wars.

Giullame's middle and youngest sons, Lorenzo and Vincenzo respectfully, were not as ornately dressed as their father and older sibling; Vincenzo, the youngest, was the least flashy, in a similar uniform to that of the Logudoron army officers only with extra chevrons and frills along with a fur bearskin patch at the top of his kepi. The Grenadier's Commander, Alfraedo Larama, and his Captain, Nero Crocetti, were just as grandiose in their presentation as the Fiorino family and the whole procession was quite the sight for any Faustino inhabitants that had not already split. The entire posse came to a halt in the center of the fork in the road at the southern edge of town as Giullame surveyed his surroundings and the future sight of a historic battle to come. Logudoron regiments were already positioning themselves west of the fork and north along the roads until they were adjacent to the ridge line that split the dense Faustino Foresta in half.

Giullame stood on his tiptoes to attempt to gaze past the man made ridge along the ford that the Via Nuoro Imbucare ran across, his first born, Paolo, looking squinting eyed in the same direction. The rest of group stood restless closely behind and everyone seemed to sigh simultaneously when several scouts approached with news of the arrival of the rebellious force at the southern edge of the pass into Faustino. Giullame did not move from where he stood, however, save for adjusting his stance. A moment more went by before he placed his feet back flat on the ground and rotated to address his retinue.

"They are here," the Logudoron Duke said sternly, "Quite a large force it would appear but I'm certain we have more."

Larama chimed in quickly, to settle the mood perhaps, "The consensus of the reports for the last few days has been around eight thousand, give or take five hundred. We have five thousand of Logudoros finest, three thousand Nuorons, several hundred Condottieri and to top it all two thousand of the finest fighting force in the land, the Fortezza Grenadiers." Larama spoke confidently and helped assure the other men present for the time being.

Giullame shook his ahead in agreement, "I have the utmost faith that what will be left of that riffraff will be in chains cleaning the field of their dead friends this evening. We must get to that first though. It looked as if the whole force is preparing to bum rush across the ford along the road," he began walking forward towards his youngest sons and the Nuoron officers while Paolo kept in stride beside him.

"This should be easy enough, they will get caught at the edge of town while we can envelope them from the treeline south of the village," he turned to Paolo and placed a gloved hand upon his shoulder, "you, my son, are the hammer. You and Larama, with the Grenadiers, will hide in the woods above the swamp until it is time to strike." He pounded his fist into his palm with the word strike for emphasis before turning to his middle son. Giullame had to look up at him as he spoke, Lorenzo being the tallest of the Fiorino brothers, "you, my boy, are the anchor. You shall hold right here and not give even an inch this scum. You are the core, our bastion, and cannot fall. You are the anvil to the hammer that Paolo will reign down upon them to finish this."

Lorenzo saluted his father proudly, "I will not let you down, my Lord. Not one of them shall pass where we stand now, father."

Giullame smiled and leaned in to embrace his son, afterwards patting him on the back several times. Vincenzo shuffled uneasily as his father reluctantly turned to him, seeming to bare a scowl on his face despite not doing so only a second ago, "You, boy, will be the carrot to the ass that comes before us. With the least amount of men you will attempt to draw them into the forest and away from the difficult target that is Lorenzo in the village and Crocetti here north of that position. You will need to appear weak and an easy target, which should not be too difficult for you. This is in order to pull them far enough back to completely surround and encompass them." Giullame smirked and gave Vincenzo a pinch on the cheek.

"By evening we will all be emptying the barrels of wine and ales at this tavern here, rejoicing a glorious victory," Giullame said to the whole group as he pointed at the large building they stood in front of that served as the local gathering place, besides the church of course.

"Now to battle stations, boys! Glory awaits!" The Gold Duke of Logudoro said, rather ecstatically, the child in him having always wanted to utter that phrase just before a great victory of his own.

*****


A pair of blank eyes peered incessantly into the still, muddy waters that laid sporadically through the marshy valley at the southern edge of town. Motionless, dark pits that filled the voids between the gentle knolls that streaked across the lowland below the massive ford and covert; the mosquito breeding grounds seemed to stare back, with the background of the low, ominous hum of the wildlife that reverberated through his skull. The static, dreary scenery and the heartbeat of the swamp momentarily overpowering the sounds and clamors of the battle being waged just over the hill at the base of town.

"Oi, Paolo!"

Paolo Fiorino shook his head from side to side rapidly when Lamara snapped in his fingers in front of his face, bringing him back to reality. The gravity of the situation quickly came back as he tuned himself into the noise and intonations of the chaos which he and his men were just out of sight off. Paolo turned to the grenadier commander who sat on a stump beside him, taking frequent, short puffs off of the lanky cigarillo hanging from his lips. Both men, along with the 2500 soldiers that made a solid bulk of the coalition force, were crouched hidden in brush whispering among themselves anxiously waiting for the signal to move from their camouflage.

Lamara reached into his jacket's chest pocket and retrieved another cigarillo, handing it to Paolo, "You smoke?"

Paolo took the offering and placed it in his mouth, "No," he replied as Lamara handed him his lit smoke and Paolo pressed the ember to the tip of the one hanging from his mouth. He dragged on it to start the flame but pushed a little too hard with Lamara's and knocked the cherry right off, giving a little hiss when the ember hit the moist ground. Lamara chuckled as Paolo apologized, Lamara brushing it off and saying as he retrieved a book of matches from his pocket, "It's okay, are you always this clumsy and distant?"

Paolo shook his head no, handing the middle aged grenadier's cigarillo back to him, "No sir, I think I am just a little nervous is all. I have never seen any combat before."

Lamara laughed rather heartily, perhaps louder than one should when hiding but the shouting and gunfire nearby more than drowned it out. Paolo coughed after taking a drag and cleared his throat to spit on the ground, Lamara looking at him and stopped laughing to relight his cigarillo and say, "Most of the men here haven't either. Excluding drunken brawls and gang fights I'd think it would be safe to say not a man among us, either side for that matter, has fought in a pitched battle."

"I can't let my father down," Paolo said as he attempted to smoke again, his attention turning back to the marsh ahead of him seemingly drawn to staring into the still muddy, puddles across it. Looking away from Lamara as he spoke, "It just seems like he stuck me down here to stay out the way until it's time to let the Grenadiers do their job. Meanwhile Lorenzo, my younger brother mind you, is holding off the entire enemy army right now. What do you think the people will remember about today??" He took another drag from the cigarillo, this one a bit steadier, and blew out a cloud of smoke. Lamara scoffed, leaning forward to place a hand upon Paolo's back.

"You have some daddy issues do you?" Paolo turned to Lamara, his face red and annoyed, "I would have to say you're wrong about why you're down here, boy. You're father clearly favors you, you are the first born son and heir, yes? What people will remember from today, regardless of whatever else goes down, is how the Logudoron prince charged in and swiftly ended the battle, all while wielding the family's heirloom sword." Lamara gestured to the nearly ancient blade that Paolo was wearing on his hip; it was not as fancy as his father's but carried a much longer history and deeper meaning to it than Giullame's ornamental saber.

Some of the stress seemed to dissolve from Paolo's face, but the red complexion did not, nor did the excessive sweating seem to cease. Lamara smirked and lightly slapped Paolo's face, Paolo surprised to realize how moist and clammy his palm was. "Between you and me, if there was any Fiorino brother your old man is not a fan of, its the little one, Vincenzo," Lamara nervously chuckled, "he stuck that boy out in the woods, cut off and shorthanded. Might as well have stapled some beef and slather him in chickens blood to throw him in a wolves den..."

Paolo jutted up unexpectedly and looked back and forth around him at all of the men crouched and stalking in the bushes, "What the hell are we waiting for anyways? Tell me now, if we are supposed to be surrounding the enemy, why are we not moving now?"

Lamara shrugged and motioned to the sentry officer nearby who hurriedly came over, squatting and crouching the whole way, "Signore!" Lamara nodded sternly and questioned the boy on the status of the fight above. The core of the assaulting force was held up on the land bridge and hill, but the more devastating news was that of the two thousand men the scouts had not seen approaching the creek from the southwest until they had already forded their own paths across the water and positioned themselves in the western outskirts of the village. Lamara and Paolo listened intently until he asked, "What are Crocetti and this one's brother doing about it?"

"They have moved to engage them, Captain, Crocetti along the road and Fiorino through the woods like originally planned." Lamara nodded and waved the sentry off to return to his post, and turned to Paolo who said passive aggressively, "And what are we doing about it all? We can't move because they are still on the hill?"

Lamara stroked his chin just once and then took his turn staring at the swamp, "We are a month into the start of the dry season... Even in winter there are several paths through the marsh, much less of them and a thousand times wetter. Prince Paolo," Lamara said antagonistically, looking him in the face "you really anxious to get fighting? Or at least to impress Poppa?"

Paolo nodded, biting his lip to prevent himself from saying anything out of line. Lamara nodded and said as he stood up, "Good. We will cut through the swamp and trap them on that hill. Make a shooting gallery of Via Nuoro Imbucare," Lamara pulled his pistol out of his holster and pointed it in the air as he shouted to the men gathered, "On your feet you bastards! Move quickly through the swamp; stay on dry land when you can and hug the base of the hill. Maybe then they won't be able to shoot you in your empty skulls! Now, boys, forward! Rapidamente!"

With a roar the men sprung from their cover and sprinted through the wood line and into the marsh.

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Postby Parthonopia » Fri Jan 19, 2018 11:24 pm

"Mio Dio Non Recapitò Daniel?"

Midday
Faustino, Fortezza Nuoro
6th of May, 2012

A flood of adrenaline washed over Paolo Fiorino as he sprinted, shoulder to to shoulder with the burly Grenadiers, racing down the narrow corridors of mostly firm grass intertwined through the network of puddles and ponds. His heart raced as he kicked up flecks of mud off of his boot while he ran. The entire mass slowed down to a jog near the halfway point of crossing through the marsh, due to fatigue and the increasingly difficult to traverse paths. Paolo's head was swiveled to the right as he ran, rubbernecking the ridge line that obstructed his view of the road and the thousands of savage prisoners on the reverse slope. He witnessed a large throng of Logudoron troops climb the small ridge just east of where the culvert dumped into. The emboldened Grenadier commander, Alfraedo Larama, was right alongside Paolo and was barking commands and rallies to the men as he ran.

Larama gripped his pistol in his hand, his arm at a ninety degree angle while he rushed forward staring blankly ahead. Paolo was still focused on the ridge, even after a slight misstep left his right boot filled with mud and his sock uncomfortably drenched. He did not turn his attention forward until a hail of gunfire prompted him to. Instantly, not one hundred yards before him, the unexpected volley caught the front line off guard, tearing the men apart before their lifeless bodies collapsed, many into the pools of water surrounding them. The battalion almost simultaneously halted down the line as Paolo and Lamara stopped mid stride and lowering to a crouch.

Lamara waved his pistol and shouted, "Spread out and use the slopes to your advantage! Press forward and return fire, boys, give them hell!"

Lamara jumped up from his crouch, the bearskin cap atop his head wobbling as he did so, and fired his pistol twice while he advanced to the new front line. The Logudorons and Grenadiers began to exchange gunfire with the enemy; Paolo watched as a force of men in civilian clothes, the brown sleeves of their shirts rolled up, emerged from the treeline on the opposite bank. Paolo was motionless and breathing heavily, practically laying face down on the dirt. He could hear Larama barking orders and men screaming in pain from their wounds. Dirt kicked up ahead of him as bullets impacted, he had to get up off the knoll. Grenadiers filled the gap behind him as he sprinted feverishly forward to Lamara, drawing his pistol before diving into the pit with the captain.

The thought of the ridge smacked Paolo in the face with force and he turned around just in time to witness more armed prisoners mounting the ridge and spraying a brutal volley down upon the men near the culvert pool. The rag tag Legionnaires flooded over the peak, some resting there to shoot down while an overwhelming number of men, still garbed in a now filthy prison jumpsuits, rushed down the embankment. Paolo commanded attention to the ridge and the Logudoron detachment which was closest began returning fire. Some the men on the ridge desperately tried to gracefully climb down the slope and onto the dry sections while many just plummeted down and into the pool at the base. Others flew over the peak with such momentum that they crash landed directly on top of what was left of the Logudorons on the small hill below.

To describe the onslaught from the ridge as a flood was an understatement as the number of released prisoners coming down seemed never ending. Scrambling, literally on top of each other, they were in arms reach of the Logudorons closest to the hill within seconds. Paolo watched in terror and awe, even Larama was wide eyed as he first looked on. Both men could more then clearly hear, over all of the gunshots and excitement, a voice near the base of hill from the opposing side shout, "Show them the steel, boys!"

The enemy's rallying call preceded a deafening and bone chilling war cry before those who were not already slain, injured, or trapped in the mud below the culvert, crashed into the unprepared Logudorons. Larama rose up from his hiding spot and nearly emptied his pistol in the general direction of the ridge as he barked to both his and Paolo's men, "Fix bayonets! Give it to them!"

The remainder of the Logudoron force that held that flank rushed into the breach against the machete wielding prisoners, the overflow of men toppling over into the marsh. The fighting was brutal as men flailed, trying not to drown in the mud pits while the intense combat raged on. Paolo was trembling against his embankment, much akin to the rest of the line as return fire dwindled and the intensity of the barrage from the opposite woods increased. Larama was screaming into Paolo's face to get up, that if they stayed put they would all die but Paolo heard none of it. All Paolo could understand was watching as the bearskin cap atop the grenadier's head exploded and his jaw dropped, astounded by his own luck. Only a moment later the grateful Larama was struck in the shoulder and knocked down into the shallow edge of the splash, his back under water.

Larama was screaming and cursing, the blood that was certainly draining from his wound camouflaged by the red of his jacket and the layer of mud that coated every man trapped in that miserable lagoon. Paolo turned his attention from the violently kicking commander to the chaos around him and the mass of men butchering each other in the swamp below the hill. His despair and apparent sealed fate quickly changed when something caught his eye by the treeline he had been hiding in earlier. A wave of Logudoron reinforcements rushed through the woods and to the edge of the marsh and began firing on the enemy. Paolo's spirits were briefly lifted and his grasp on the situation a bit steadier and he rose triumphantly and whooped, "We stay here and let them die," pointing to the boys ferociously fighting hand to hand, "and we will all die where we stand! Grenadiers! Logudorons! On me!"

The remaining force changed their course and formed in the hollows just before the main point of contact, Paolo shouting for the Grenadiers to use their rations of grenades and dump them into the culvert put. He had deemed the potential friendly fire necessary as the pile of prisoners in that pit grew exponentially. Blood and dirt flew in all directions as the grenades burst, but it only proved to drive the surviving attackers to push out of the hole and into the Logudorons even more aggressively and with greater speed. A sea of men were rushing in the direction of Paolo and the remaining grenadiers, both combatants and fleeing Logudorons whose morale was shattered and their units routing. Paolo mustered all the courage that remained inside of him and with only a slight voice crack he gave his last command before rushing forward himself, "Into the breach!"

The grenadiers gave an equally bone chilling war cry as the one they were presented with earlier and charged forward directly into the throng rushing to meet them. Some shooting from the hip, cutting down whole swathes of the horde ahead of them, Paolo ran among them and discarded his pistol to draw his sword. Grasping the handle firmly, he was caught completely off guard when he failed to pull it out and the blade was stuck in the sheathe. Looking down to see what was obstructing it, without paying attention to his footing, Paolo noticed the chain clipped to either side of the sheathe and threaded through the hand guard. He failed to notice, however, the face down Logudoron clawing to climb out of the embankment he was dying of his wounds in and Paolo slipped on the man's back and fell into the very same puddle.

In the awkward positioning of his tumble the sheath got caught on the ground and snapped the hinge of the buckle to it at his waist. Paolo scrambled to get on his back against the embankment and grab a hold of his family's most cherished heir loom. He looked up just in time to see a wild eyed and nearly toothless man in a brown jumpsuit heaving a machete over his head and down towards Paolo's. Adrenaline had taken over him at this point and he rolled to his right over the man who he had tripped on and the prisoners machete cleaved down into the man's back. The poor boy let out an agonizing squeal as Paolo's attacker dislodged his machete, giving Paolo enough time to stand and start to draw his sword. He backed up slightly while the man assaulting him wound up for another; all in one motion Paolo ripped the saber from it's sheathe, shattering the chain that prevented him from doing so earlier, and swung down on the aggressor cutting straight through the machete when he tried to block it.

Paolo could hear nothing but a deafening ringing in his ears and all he could see was through a thick red haze. He wrenched the sword out of the man's shoulder blade and spun around to the sight of another screaming man rushing at him. Paolo plunged the sword straight through his belly, impaling the man as he got back atop the knoll. Paolo kicked the limp body off his blade and into the pond below, only then realizing that the man was not an assailant and was a retreating Logudoron. The boy, who was now coughing out blood unable to utter his last words had not been rushing at Paolo but rather attempting to rush past him. But the first born son of the Gold Duke had no time to think about his misdeed as another towering beast of a man came barreling at him, machete raised high and already smeared in blood.

Pure shock and a burning urge to survive drove Paolo forward to meet his enemy, winding his arm in a windmill fashion to strike down on the fast approaching monster with force. Paolo's contender fruitlessly tried to block the blow with his left arm while swinging the machete with his right; the weapon came down with a tremendous momentum through his forearm and almost to his sternum from the shoulder blade. Even as the left arm was severed the right followed through with it's strike and Paolo made the same mistake as his assailant, instinctively raising his free hand to block his face. The machete did not come across with the full original strength of the swing but was still enough to hew Paolo's little and ring finger as well as a chunk of the palm. With a passionate rage, fueled by the blood leaking from his hand, Paolo placed the wrist of his injured hand under the handle of the sword and heaved upwards while kicking his foe down. When it ripped out he stumbled backwards, almost completely losing his balance, before coming back and lobbing the top half of his already near lifeless and kneeling foe's head.

Paolo was screaming, seemingly without respite, as he leaped further forward and into yet another thigh deep body of water. All around him the fighting raged and he trudged across the puddle, as quickly as he could, toward the knoll at the end. From the low point he stood in he could not yet see over the small slope and into the brawling chaos he assuredly knew ensued within the next pond. But Paolo raged on, wading onto dry land and quickly scaling over the grade. A frenzied state of hysteria overwhelmed Paolo and clouded his thoughts, which there were none of besides an enormous drive to move forward. Paolo, scrambling, with his sword high in the air beaming off of the glare of the sun, climbed up and over directly into the arms of yet another Legionnaire, wild and just as frenziedly rushing forward as Paolo.

The Legionnaire went low and flipped Paolo over him, sending him somersaulting in the air and landing face up in the swamp, his head just above water. Paolo watched above him as two bayonets pierced the chest of the man who flipped him and a herd of Grenadiers swarmed over the same terrain and into the water. Soldiers dropped in all directions and it was then that Paolo felt the bodies he laid upon that kept him just above water and the bodies of the slain and convalesced all around him. The living trampled the casualties as they created more, as a mass of the deceased piled up rapidly, even completely filling the puddles and allowing for some one to travel across several of the ponds without having to trudge through the water. Paralyzed with shock Paolo flinched as he zoned back into reality just in time to watch as the massive, heavy boot, stamped with the initials of the Fortezza Grenadiers in the treads, came down upon his face and pushed him under.

His throat filled with mud and water and he thrashed and flailed until a heavy weight came down on his chest and pinned his arms; another body came to rest across him as he struggled in the tiny space left. Blinded by the clouded water and filling his lungs more with each desperate gasp Paolo was unable to utter his last words before his body twitched until it became completely motionless.

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Postby Parthonopia » Sun Mar 18, 2018 9:02 pm

"Voi Che Sapete"

Early Evening
Faustino, Fortezza Nuoro
6th of May, 2012

It was uncomfortably quiet in the once parlor room, now command headquarters, of the stuffy town hall, despite the ever present danger of the battle raging outside. In spite of the silence, the room was seemingly filled to the brim with equally dusty old men, each with an increasingly frantic look on their face. Working around the immovable living busts of the Logudoron and Nuoron High Commands, their flustered staff and retinue who tended to their duties briskly, while at the same time painstakingly attempting to do so as quiet and inconspicuously as possible. In truth the command's staff was lacking in tasks and, in the absence of other orders, finding things and polishing them or straightening out ajar stacks of paper. Beyond beginning to prep for a withdrawal that had not yet been called for there was nothing left but to wait for the silence to break or continue to appear busy.

Governor Major Dante Empiaganto, the stone faced warden of Fortezza Nuoro, sat in a portrait pose almost completely still, excusing the incessant metronome he would tap with his pen out on the desk dividing him and Logudoron Duke. The tapping had been such a constant whilst the duration of their time in there that Giullame could no longer even hear it, having tuned out that sound about an hour before he started tuning out the status reports from the runners, two hours before he became struck with the stoic silence that had soon enveloped the rest of the room. Duke Giullame nervously twisted the edge of his mustache while panning across the room with his bloodshot eyes, gazing over the expressions of those present, his advisers and the commanders not in the field. The worried looks of distress and despair looking back at him were not very encouraging. He twisted his neck to view out the window, looking past the large, sweaty Nuoron officer blocking a portion of the view.

"Those are getting closer," Giullame said blankly, referring to the almost melodic chorus of small arms fire outside that steadily grew louder as the proximity of the fight crept ever closer. Never taking his attention away from the window, the Governor Major Empiaganto broke his pose and perpetual tapping to shuffle around in his chair to share in the same view as the Duke; a hazy dusk setting over the village, wispy purple and orange streaks at the bottom corner of the sky being chased away by the all consuming dreary gray fog of nightfall. A fire could be seen flickering back and forth, the flames whipped by the wind, near the fork entering town.

Empiaganto turned back around, grunting and groaning as he did so, clearly straining his rounded stomach in the process. The gold button at his sternum on his shirt seemed to be straining from the pressure of the tension that having it buttoned caused. Giullame was entranced by how hard that one button was working compared to the rest, after the window this being the next object of his complete attention. The Governor Major's chin seemed to be moving as he was clearly saying something, but all Giullame could pay any mind to was the button.

"Our best option is flee! Take what is left and return to the fortress," Empiaganto cracked his mouth open before clearing his throat and licking his lips, the silence officially being broken. It would not be much longer before stray rounds from the front lines of the combat would begin to find their way into the cramped hall and all those gathered were fully aware of that. Giullame was back to being mute, however the rest of the crowd was not and an uproar of conversation flooded the room.

"My Lord the latest runner's dispatch puts enemy contact occurring along the Imbucare Via just west of town."

"Fighting is going door to door, the remaining reserves are already reinforcing Lorenzo."

"There is still yet to be contact from Larama and your son Paolo, six hours now."

Empiaganto sat still in his chair, not turning his gaze away from Giullame who remained steadfast quiet while chaos was erupting around him in the form of fiery debate. The Nuoron Governor Major spoke slowly and meticulously, bobbing his head for an added inflection, directly to Duke Giullame, "We need to make a decision here. Time is running out, along with our options. This may be our last opportunity for a tactical withdrawal."

The burly Nuoron officer lurking by the curtains of the double-hung windows had one of them pulled to the side as he looked on down to the situation in the street. Dark wet stains grew under his armpits and on his chest below the unbuttoned top three buttons, in complete disregard to uniform code. Swallowing and even further loosening his collar he turned from the glass pane and began to utter a sentence before clearing his throat and trying again, "The front line is visible from here, troops are rushing across the street and courtyard to the building.."

Shortly thereafter the sound of the double front door on the bottom level crashing open could be heard, followed immediately by the clamoring pounding of several sets of boots into the building before the door slammed back closed. Everyone in the room was standing now, including the Duke and Governor Major. All eyes were glued towards the stairwell save for the Nuoron officer by the window who could not peel his from it. Practically holding their breath the room waited anxiously for the near eternity that it took the thundering sounds of boots to march up the stairs and appear. The first of the line was Duke Giullame's middle son, Lorenzo, who was missing the shiny breastplate he had departed that morning with and covered from head to toe in dirt, blood speckled sporadically on him as well. Giullame rushed up to his son and embraced him, using his thumb to scrub away some of the thick layer of dirt on Lorenzo's check.

Lorenzo pushed his father back, a little clean patch under his eye looking out of place, and holstered the pistol he had rushed into the building holding, "Father we can no longer hold! I have men across the street in and in front of those buildings holding them at bay for now but-"

Empiaganto slammed his fist on the table, the first time he had raised his voice yet, "This is exactly what I have been saying! We have one of your boys now, withdraw with what is left while a small contingent keeps up this fighting retreat."

Giullame, his hands still on Lorenzo's shoulders, turned to Empiaganto and snarled, "We have lost too much to turn back now! I also have more than one boy, Governor Major, and I intend on celebrating a victory with all of them tonight. Do you not wish for that?"

Empiaganto was now face to face with Giullame before Lorenzo shoved his way between them shouting the whole way, "Father we have to leave now! They have my brothers and will take all of us if we stay..."

The room was already in a frenzy, shouting and arguing, and continued to be that way for several more minutes before Giullame motioned for everyone to stop. It took some time for the room to completely settle but when it did everyone was deathly aware of the sudden, grave silence that had fallen over the field. No more gun fire could be heard, nor the shouting and revelry of combat. They were all soaked with fear and nervousness, the skin tone of every man in there lightening several shades instantly. Sweat was starting to bead off of Giullame's forehead and collecting in his mustache; he turned slowly to once again face the window and reluctantly began to crawl over there, suddenly possessing the gait of a cripple with a walker. He was stopped dead in his tracks, his heart beat as well, when as clear as possible through the crackly loud speaker a powerful, imposing voice, the speaker unknown to Giullame, began to shout out a message.

"Listen up ladies! We have your sons and the rest of your boys. You are surrounded. Surrender now or your boys will die and so will you."



It had not rained in over a week yet the main thoroughfare through the town was a muddy mess as the scores of boots trudged down it towards the crossing. Duke Giullame Fiorino cautiously lead the tightly herded pack that included his son Lorenzo, directly to his right, the Governor Major Empiaganto and the rest of the high command in tow. Flanking them on either side, bayonets fixed, Parthonopian Legionaries kept the pace with the occasional prod and threatening gesture. Leading the parade, a good twenty feet between him and the next man, was the Marshal Vico Bartolomeo Ongaro who was practically skipping as he hummed a tune the whole way.

Legionnaires, covered in dirt and tattered clothes, stood at attention lining the road way, starting in the courtyard of the town hall as all of its occupants uneasily exited. Giullame and company could not help but to survey the carnage that had been wrought upon Faustino as they were corralled to their uncertain destination and fate. Every eye in the city was glaring at them, rifles in hand, as they were paraded past soldier after soldier standing in front of busted buildings, riddled with bullet holes. Every window in Faustino was shattered as far as one could tell.

It took some time before Giullame realized that the mud was caused by the blood of the slain. Lorenzo tapped his father's shoulder to get his attention as he appeared to be a zombie trailing behind his ecstatic captors. Lorenzo was quickly hit in the ribs with the butt of a rifle for doing so but he succeeded in getting a hold of his father's ear for a moment. Lorenzo motioned with his head down towards the creek bed where at least a thousand Logudorons were sitting back to back, unarmed and surrounded by soldiers, "Vincenzo's, no? Maybe he is okay..."

"I need to see Paolo. Vincenzo dug his own grave."

The procession came to a halt at the intersection south of the village, Ongaro walking up to a sweaty Di Pietro who had been waiting there, breathing heavily. Accompanying Di Pietro, besides the officers and retinue close by, were Vincenzo Fiorino and Nero Crocetti, arms tied behind their backs and two armed guards holding each of them. The parade of prisoners came up shortly after and stopped ten feet short of Ongaro and the rest; the Legionnaires escorting the Duke and entourage turned towards them and lowered their bayonets towards them forcing the group to their knees while separating Duke Giullame from them and presenting him to Ongaro.

The Marshal was smiling ear to ear as he said blithely, "Not having a good day are you?"

Ongaro motioned to the Duke to follow him and the two men followed up the road and eventually onto the ridge parallel it that could look down into the marsh and culvert below. All the way down the ridge Giullame could see these soldiers, dressed in civilian clothes or prison jump suits most of them, laying down with rifles pointed into the swamp. There were several sub machine guns as well plus for every man on the ridge there was another directly behind and below him on the reverse slope. The sight down in the swamp was a different story and not one the Duke would wish to recall often nor care to remember.

"You've got some boys down there still. Giving me a problem, so I wanted them to see you officially surrender and maybe then they will have some sense." As far as the eye could see in the wet valley below was carnage, mounds of dead and mutilated bodies blanketed the landscape and the grass stained red. In the center of the scene, very prominently visible was a massive circular pile of corpses, built around one of the pools, with a Nuoron banner flying from a pike speared into the mound.

Giullame's eyes and mouth were wide open in shock, he turned to Ongaro and feebly asked while pointing, "Where are they?"

Ongaro gave a hearty laugh and grabbed the hand the Duke was pointing with and used it to point at the stack of bodies laid atop of each other to form a wall, "Right there," Ongaro gave Giullame his hand back, "they're a bunch of savage animals, they use both of our dead to make a corpse fort so they can hide in a puddle and shoot at us. Can you believe that? I mean it is truly incredible, I love the commitment, so I want them to surrender like the rest of you fools did. Would be a shame to waste that kind of talent."

Ongaro chuckled and slapped Giullame on the back a few times, antagonistically. The illustrious Gold Duke now felt overdressed and overwhelmed, looking back to his two sons captured behind him and hoping that his first born was alive as well. Ongaro was handed a large bullhorn and winked at Giullame, still smiling, before saying, "You will want to watch this."

"I am the Marshal Vico Bartolomeo Ongaro, Commander of the Parthonopian Legion. My friends call me Bart, you all can call me My Lord. The battle is over," he paused there for emphasis before continuing more sternly, "you have lost. Surrendering is your only option. Put down your weapons and come out, you will not be harmed. Surrender now."

A lone voice shouted back a reply ferociously and defiantly, "A Grenadier dies, he does not surrender!"

Ongaro shook his head and chuckled again before putting the speaker back to his mouth, "You are surrounded! Your only option is surrender or to be buried in that mud pit."

The same voice responded repeating the earlier phrase, "A Grenadier dies, he does not surrender!"

"Now I am no longer asking the commander. I am asking the boys now, ragazzi! Do you wish to surrender?"

A different voice from the corpse fort shouted back this time, "Our commander is dead!"

Giullame stumbled when he heard that, dizzily stepping backwards until he tumbled down the incline and onto the road where he crumpled over crying uncontrollably. Two Legionnaires quickly grabbed him by the arms and wrenched him up onto his feet before Ongaro waved them away and they dragged the once illustrious Gold Duke to the other captives and tossed him onto the ground. Ongaro watched all of this play out, as did everyone on that road, before turning once again to the swamp with his bullhorn, "Final chance! Live or die, the option is yours. Take a minute before you respond irrationally again."

With that the Marshal put the speaker under his arm and clapped some dust off his hands before climbing down the hill and to Di Pietro who had finally caught his breath, "Marshal Ongaro, units are already in position to strike if they keep up. However, several reports from the line say the Grenadiers down there have some of our men prisoner and are using them as, uh, meat shields."

Ongaro shook his head contemplating, he was quite impressed with the sheer gritty discipline of the Nuoron Grenadiers. Before he was able to answer Di Pietro he was both mildly disappointed and pleased to hear shouted from below the ridge by over a hundred voices in unison, "A Grenadier dies, he does not surrender!"

"So be it. Those gentlemen want to die for their country, let's oblige them."

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Postby Parthonopia » Sun Apr 15, 2018 5:15 pm

"Lakmé"

Afternoon
Fortezza Nuoro, Fortezza Nuoro
9th of May, 2012


The skies were clear and the sun was shining bright on the plains below. There was a gentle wind rolling through the fields of chest high grass swaying with the breeze. The setting was pristine until early in the morning of this day, just after first daylight, when work details from the Legion encamped in and around the city came onto the scene. This was a truly momentous day for all Parthonopia; this was the first time in all of Liran history that Fortezza Nuoro had fallen to an outside invader. The capture and subsequent occupation of the citadel stronghold, although widely kept confidential and unknown to the general public, had stirred quite a bit of excitement and distress, both in equal measures, among the local populations in this and surrounding fiefs. The anxiousness could be felt all the way up the chain of command, even in the Field Marshal Friuli. Friuli found himself patiently enduring the silent treatment, sideways glances mixed in occasionally, from the Marshal Ongaro. After news of the Battle of Faustino Forest had reached Friuli in Carica he had quickly mobilized to meet Ongaro with the rest of the Legion; two days of ceaseless arguing and rehashing ensued between the two men who embodied the epitome of stubbornness. The locking of horns had evolved into a silent tension that was practically visible. Friuli surveyed his troops before him, the bristles of his mustache motioned with the direction of the wind that had picked up ever so slightly. The temperature was dropping after the heat of the day at noon, the winds adding to that feeling.

There was a buzz about the thousand some odd contingent of Legionnaires that were bivouacked in the field; the morning prior they had received their marching orders and embarked to the plain at the southern edge of Fortezza Nuoro. Over the course of the morning the men had made sure to be well trimmed and groomed before being inspected with a fine tooth comb. A small brass band had been formed and practiced a single song for the previous couple of days. As their deadline steadily approached the troops had been called into rank, forming two parallel columns of two ranks each facing each other. A street down the center was formed by the troops, a caravan of four vehicles in a row parked there.

At long last the hum of the engines in the convoy could be heard, Friuli, Ongaro, and staff in the vehicles. The men in the ranks grew quieter until the command to be brought to attention and they were completely silenced. The troop band, directly behind the cars, had ceased rehearsing and was readied for the Legion's grand 'official' entrance into the historic stronghold. Friuli stood straight up in the backseat of the topless jeep, arms crossed behind his back looking firmly into the sky. Looking back down to the men he noticed how every one of their eyes were glued on him. He motioned his head to the Major who stood below him awaiting his orders and "SHOULDER ARMS" could be heard shouted down the lines as the entire company completed the order swiftly and synchronized. Friuli could not help but smile before sitting down and leaning back as the jeep rolled forward, the columns marching alongside.

The procession approached the grand southern gate to the city, which opened before them. The bulk of the armed force had arrived the previous day and was already garrisoned within the walls, Ongaro's personal march through the streets had lacked in grandeur and was more utilitarian in purpose. Today was for appearances and to ceremonially resign the Governor Major Empiaganto and coronate Ongaro in his stead. The band, as prompted, swiftly began playing what was certainly the top contender for the future nation's anthem, La Marcia Reale, as the troops filed into the city and down the street.

The remainder of the Legion force not participating in the victory lap of a parade lined the sidewalks, standing between the marching columns and the crowds of natives stringing the thoroughfare watching on bleakly. In short time the parade concluded at the foot of the hill that the Governor's Palace stood upon. Two thousand more Legionnaires stood in shoulder arms position in the courtyard before the massive stone building, Grand Captain Di Pietro at the head of the guard. The cars came to a stop, Friuli and Ongaro shuffling out and continuing up the steps to the building. All the while the band played La Marcia Reale on repeat, the flag brandishing the Nuoron Crest atop the palace dropped to the ground below before the flag of the former Kingdom of Parthonopia, only this one interrupted with a gear like and cross symbol in the center, was raised. The two highest commanders of the Legion marched on alone through the open doors into a parlor before reaching a set of pocket doors blocked by a pair of Legionnaires whom opened it before them. As the doors were slid closed behind them the sound of the bands trumpeting was drowned out and Ongaro and Friuli found themselves completely by themselves for once, no lackeys, advisers, or lesser officers hanging around to impeded upon an open discussion.

Ongaro was still moving, walking at a purposeful pace, as Friuli lingered shortly before completely halting and exclaiming, "Is there a problem you need to get off of your chest, Bart."

It was a question but Friuli did not say it as one, speaking more plainly as if it were a statement instead. Ongaro stopped dead in his tracks and turned around slowly, turning his stern look of disdain into an overtly insincere beaming smile, "A problem? No of course not, my Lord! What possible issue could there be to raise?" Ongaro raised his eyebrow and titled his head, taking three steps closer to Friuli.

Further closing the gap between them, Friuli replied as he slowly stepped, "Well firstly there is the blatant patronizing, you and I both know we are either the same rank, or I am even lesser than your, so there is no need to call me my Lord..."

Ongaro was now standing toe to toe with Friuli, looking down on him into his eyes, both men did not budge a hair. "Then with that knowledge, it makes me wonder what gives you the gall to question me and my decisions?"

"Because you made the wrong ones, Bart. That was never the plan and you are well aware of that!"

"If I remember correctly the plan was to annex Fortezza Nuoro, now we are standing in the hall of the Governor's Palace of that city. Was my victory not swift or decisive enough for you oh glorious general?"

Friuli wiped his hand across his mouth and took a deep breath, side stepping away from Ongaro and looking onto a landscape portrait of some coastal village on the wall, "No. You are a skilled general Bart, I do not doubt that. But you are not skilled enough to fend off a Liran coalition force with the army we have now. We cannot be moving town to town blowing up the countryside and leaving a wake of death behind us. How long before Produzire, Etrurie, Arideo or even Winst invade and squash any hope of unifying? I'd give it six months if we continue at this brazen pace."

Ongaro opened his mouth to interject but was quickly interrupted, "Don't, I have no care to hear your answer or input on that. I have the right to question your moves because I was placed in command of this campaign and its strategies and approach. You were placed in command of drilling and organizing the army that comes of it. I question your moves now, because honestly, after Faustino I question your motives."

Ongaro snarled back at Friuli, "Well perhaps I question your motives, Ignazio. Why should I trust you when you want to not only spare those who conspired against us, against Parthonopia, but keep a few as pets? We should not be discussing with the Fiorino's or Empiaganto, rather hanging the lot of them in the courtyard!"

"If you thought killing them was the best option then why not have slaughtered them all in the field before you even cared to let me know you met the enemy? For the same reason you didn't execute the thousands of soldiers captured, they will be useful in the future and we are in no position to be throwing any assets away! So now, since this campaign has met its primary goal, thanks to you of course, I will return to Ancona by the end of the month with the Guardsmen, the captured Nuorons and Logudorons and Fiorino's youngest boy. Di Pietro will be going back to Carrara with the Massans and you will stay here and be a good Marshal and Warden and continue raising and training this army. The Duke Fiorino and his other boy will get to live and retain power of their state in return for obedience in the future and conscription indefinitely. Am I clear?"

Ongaro was practically growling and ready to finish this whole affair, "Yes, of course."

"Good, now, and this will be the last time I ask this, do you have any issues you need to get off of your chest?" Friuli was pushing his boundary a little, antagonizing the already annoyed Ongaro.

"No, Field Marshal. No problems here."

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Postby Parthonopia » Wed Apr 18, 2018 1:28 pm

"Quando m'en vo' soletta"

Evening
Aranci, Fortezza Nuoro
18th of May, 2012


Ongaro sat stone faced in front of a rough hewn wood table in the center of the kitchen of yet another drab farm house he had claimed as a temporary command headquarters. The operation outside was not as elaborate or extensive as the last time he was quartering in some locals home, in fact Ongaro had taken care to make sure the exact opposite was the case. He was there, outside of the village of Aranci, on secret business of his own, having sneaked out of Fortezza Nuoro for the night without notice from the rest of the command of the Parthonopian Legion. He sat at the table twiddling his thumbs while the entourage of armed guards he had with him nervously paced around the room. At long last the front door was swung open and people began to file into the home. The first to enter in the line was a taller, younger man, with uncombed dirty blond hair. He did not sport a full beard but rather stubble from in between shaves. The man stroked his chin and nodded to Ongaro as he took a seat across from him.

Ongaro could not help but notice as the man placed his hands on the table that the ring and small fingers on his left hand were missing, as well as a chunk of the middle finger and the tip of the pointer. Following behind him and being placed at the head of the table facing the door was the wrinkled shell of a man, tubes running from his nose to an oxygen tank attached to the back of his wheelchair. He was accompanied by three stone faced armed guards that, once inside, flanked him with one following behind. Pushing the elderly man was slender woman, just as tall as the first man who entered. Her beauty made Ongaro quickly forget the sight of the long gray hairs that extended from the nose and ears of the ancient pile of dust that was placed next him. Ongaro was glaring intently at the woman as she took a seat between the man in the wheel chair the one wanting fingers and did not turn his attention for several moments until the strong stench of mothballs and aftershave wafted to him.

"I am pleased to see you all could make it," Ongaro said with a smile, turning to the man in the wheel chair who was closing his eyes and opening his mouth with a yawn to reveal the few remaining stained and yellow teeth that looked out of place in there. He shook his head briefly and continued, "You, sir, must be the infamous Frodrigo Foderati! And these your children?" Ongaro gestured to the other two present.

The elderly man shook his head up and down and mumbled an unintelligible sentence. Ongaro nodded back as if he understood him and turned to the woman who had rolled him in with a smile. She had placed her hand on top of her fathers and was watching Ongaro as he kept turning his attention between the man and her. She blushed and said with a smile, "It is a pleasure to meet you, Marshal Ongaro. We have heard a bit about your escapades in this region... my name is Olivia, this," she motioned to the man sitting to her right, "is my brother Cenzo."

"Beautiful Olivia, I must first say that the pleasure is truly all mine, and secondly..."

Cenzo Foderati interrupted, rather antagonistically, "So what do you wish to discuss with us, Marshal?"

Ongaro quit the niceties and turned to Cenzo, "straight to business then? No worries," turning to Frodrigo, "well it seems that in my employ is a member of one of the most notorious and arguably powerful condottieri families in all of Parthonopia."

Ongaro leaned back in his chair and observed the faces of the three Foderati's. The patriarch Frodrigo seemed unphased, though he did not seem as if he fully understood or heard anything that was going on around him. More importantly, rather quickly realizing that the seat of power in the Foderati household was no longer held by its founder and Battle of Lepanto veteran, Ongaro studied Cenzo's reaction. Disappointingly, his reaction was equally unenthusiastic. Ongaro snapped his fingers and shouted a brief order to one of his guards who went down the hall way and into one of the bed rooms. The guard exited the bedroom behind a man in a Legionnaires uniform whose mouth dropped at the sight of the people present at the table.

"Francisco!" Olivia shouted in surprise.

"Turns out he was locked up in Carica for quite some time, a good friend of one of my new officers, Luis Madala."

Cenzo laughed and slammed the table with his good hand, "Madala?! Those two are still playing with each other's meat?"

Ongaro could not help but chuckle, and was left unsure for a moment what to say next. Olivia helped prompt him by saying, "So you have a cousin of mine. But what does that mean to us? No one sets a meeting with Frodrigo Foderati to tell him they met his nephew... what exactly do you want from us? More importantly, what can you do for us?"

Ongaro grinned ear from ear menacingly for a second before explaining himself, "What I can give you is endless. Lands, riches, a General title for every Foderati son in the Legion. What I want? That is an easier and more straight forward answer. I want to pay you all to do what Foderatis do best, fight some one elses fight in secret. Do you have any networks near the coast?"

"Sull'aria"

Late Afternoon
Castello d'Cormor, Ancona
3rd of June, 2012


Staring into the mirror, focusing in on every hair of his thick mustache individually, he counted an alarmingly greater amount of gray stragglers standing out from the brown. Friuli leaned on the vanity, gripping a comb in his right hand, as he killed time studying the face of the man he did not fully recognizing looking back at him. He ran the comb through his mustache twice more before putting it down and walking out of the bathroom into his quarters in the Castello d'Cormor. Draped over a chair outside of the bathroom was his button up shirt, laying on top of his uniform jacket. He dropped his pants to his knees as he put on his shirt before pulling them back over it tucked in and snapping his suspenders over his shoulders. He took the jacket to his dresser, a notebook, his watch and several other personal items sprawled out on it. Painstakingly slowly he put on his watch and jacket, watching his reflection in the larger mirror before him as he buttoned it up.

He picked up his pen and flipped open the notebook to the next blank page and stared for a moment at the multitude of dirt brown fingerprints on the left hand page. The leather bound covers of the book were clean and mostly unharmed but the last several pages of entries were not in as mint condition. He wrote the date at the top of the blank page before filing back several pages and reflecting for a moment. The march from Fortezza Nuoro had not been as unobstructed as originally expected, not more than four days earlier a little over two battalions worth of condottieri had confronted Friuli on the southbound Via Imbucare. Fighting had lasted for a day an a half and the returning Legionnaires were periodically harassed by the remnants of that condottieri band, and others, along nearly the entire two week march.

Despite the steady stream of skirmishes whilst the duration of the trip, casualties had remained relatively low, for both sides even. Upon arrival in Ancona late the night prior, Friuli and eleven thousand Anconans, Massans, Logudorons, and Nuorons were ushered into encampments in and around the city. Now he was happy to be in the comfort of his room for the first time in months. He glanced at the clock on the wall for the time and finished delaying. He closed the notebook and tossed it into the top center draw of the dresser before walking out the door to start his day, albeit a bit late into it.

Arriving in front of the office chambers of Duke Carlo, Friuli wiped some sweat off the top of his bald head and readjusted his mustache a hair with his fingers before entering. Carlo was out of his chair by the window onlooking the entrance courtyard, leaning against the wall. He was slightly paler than normal yet he was clearly smiling as he turned around and sauntered over to his desk, gesturing to the chair in front of it for Friuli. They both took a seat and Carlo shuffled some papers on the desk as he began to speak, "You've been in Ancona for fifteen hours and this is the first I'm seeing of you?"

Carlo still was not looking at Friuli, rearranging things in front of him as Friuli opened his mouth to retort. Suddenly dropping the stack of papers in his hands with a thud, Carlo jerked his head up and looked Friuli in the eyes, grinning as he did so, "You know tomorrow is my son Filip's birthday? Eighteen years old, he will be... no he is already, a man," Carlo spun the chair around and looked out the window behind him that the desk was centered on.

"Yes, my Lord, they all grow up so fast."

Carlo was still gazing out the window, "Yes, of course they do. That is why I have to stop and think, and it happens more and more these days, about what I will leave behind for my children. For Filip. They already will have more than most of the trash of this city, but I want more than that for them. More importantly I want more than that for myself, more than this city," he spun back around to Friuli and leaned in, "more than this Duchy. More than the coast and more than what my ancestors had stripped from them!"

"What do I need to do for you to make this happen then, my Lord?"

"Fortezza Nuoro was a start but we are not finished. Six months, Ignazio, in six months I will hold a convention of sorts, right here in Ancona. The Parthonopian rulers should be more receptive to attending these days. It will take some time but this is where I will start. For this to work they all must voluntarily join the union we seek. Start small and work our way up, create a dialogue and start the cooperation; first convince them to outlaw condottieri in all Parthonopian states and let you in to enforce it. Follow that up with convincing them to outlaw private ownership of firearms and then we organize a vote to unify. Until this happens, get busy recruiting and smash whatever problems are in our vicinity, like the ones that shot you all up maybe?"

Friuli nodded his acceptance, "Di Pietro and the Massans will only be in Ancona for two more days before returning to Carrara. The men need some time to recover but from there I can take them up and flush out the bands that engaged us. Continue this process throughout the fiefs that already have granted permission."

"Perfect. Keep it up, Friuli. You are doing the good work. It is a waiting game at this point but we are on track. Filip, he will be a King one day. Only after I die."

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Postby Parthonopia » Thu Apr 19, 2018 1:48 am

"Casta Diva"

Evening
Castello d'Cormor, Ancona
1st of January, 2013


The last time Ancona had seen snowfall on New Years Day was in 2002. Winter in general was usually a mild season for most of the Parthonopian region, especially true in the south along the coast. Gentle patches of flurries floated in the winds which had picked up and become significantly cooler after nightfall. Nothing was collecting on the streets or the sidewalks and most of what fluttered down would melt on impact. The top of the kepi that shielded Friuli's cold, bald scalp was damp because of this, as he walked through one of the many back gates of the Castello d'Cormor. He nodded appreciatively at the guards posted there, wishing them a happy new year, and feeling a brief moment of pity as he looked at their disappointed expressions, most definitely wishing they were warm at home having just finished a hot meal. Friuli took his time crossing through the courtyards and up the steps, it was not often that he would get to delight in the calm delight of watching snow fall on a winter's evening.

The young man accompanying him was much less impressed, shuffling in place in what seemed to be an attempt to remain warm. The two men were both adorned in their finest parade uniforms, flashy metal badges that reflected in the moon light spread across their chests. They were heading to a celebratory ball but Friuli's cohort had the same look on his face that the several sentries they had passed brandished. He too was there reluctantly and was envisioning a picture of a roast, wine, and warm, fresh bread by the fire at home alongside his family in Sassara. What that vision would prompt was the dread thoughts and sad reminder that those memories were long gone and that a home cooked meal ate with his kin was something that may never happen again for all he was aware. Over six months had past since the day Vincenzo Fiorino and his family had met the Parthonopian Legion, which was also the last time he had seen his father and the brother who survived the fight they were all captured in. Since then he had been tasked with being the Aide-de-Camp of the Field Marshal Friuli, which was an elegant way of saying assistant.

The summer and fall were spent campaigning, first due north of Ancona and weaving a path throughout the Barony of Cambrai. Vincenzo found himself serving coffee and staring at an array of maps and wooden figures denoting military units in a different tent or home every week, following his captors from town to town. The only consolation he had in his predicament was that he was given the opportunity to spend this time comfortably behind the front lines in the company of the highest officers, unlike his fellow countrymen who were also captured at Faustino and dragged from Nuoro to the coast. During the summer movements fighting had been fierce and frequent, the distance traveled by Friuli and his force was minimal and taken slowly. As the fall approached, the leaves turning and littering the countryside, the Legion had gained a substantial foot hold in Cambrai and garrisoned in Lepanto for several weeks before heading south towards Ceva. The march out of the Barony and south into the Duchy of Irpino was quick and uneventful, which the men at arms in the Legion would come to refer to as the calm before the storm.

The first month in the Duchy of Irpino was the bloodiest, Friuli quickly grabbing victories in Catanzaro, Clavio, and Solina. On several occasions Vincenzo Fiorino had accompanied Friuli on trips to the front line during some of the many skirmishes. In all the actions he had witnessed, however, Vincenzo had yet to see a fight that matched the numbers or death toll of that faithful day in Faustino. The two of them, higher command staff and a litany of guards always in tow, would position themselves on the highest vantage point they possessed close to the action.
Watching on in real time, Friuli often preferred to organize and dish out orders from this perspective; as he would do so he would point and thoroughly explains things to Vincenzo, often more than necessary. He would call out his observations and what each of those things meant to him and what moves he believed these would either open or prevent. He would watch a skirmish from a distance and motioning with his hands almost exactly predict the paths and movements the opposition would make, describing every thing to his ward beside him. Vincenzo felt a burning drive to have to loathe the bald headed commander he had been attached to, these were after all the same men who had killed his brother and friends and imprisoned him. Yet he did not feel like a prisoner, nor did Friuli treat him like one; rather Vincenzo could clearly witness how the Field Marshal interacted with him as a teacher would a student. Despite this Friuli had not once mentioned or talked about what happened in Fortezza Nuoro or how long he was to be kept from going back home.

Friuli stood still, leaning against the waste high wall of the stone porch they stood in, looking out at the coast. They could hear the wind whip up from the beach and through the vacant city streets as the waves lapped against the shoreline. Vincenzo cupped his hands and put them to his mouth before blowing into them and rubbing them together. Friuli turned to him and took a deep breath and he was seriously taken aback as Friuli seemed to read his mind, "I'm sure you wonder what this all means for you, why you are here."

They had traveled to Ancona straight from a Legion encampment near their new front in the Viscounty of Villacidra, the whole ride Vincenzo had been pondering what was next for him. The campaign he was currently on was to be wrapped up in the spring but if the Duke Carlo's plans with his convention were to come to fruition and all the non foreign owned Parthonopian states banned the practice of condottieri Friuli, and by extension Vincenzo, would have work for the next few years. Did that mean he would be an indentured servant to the Field Marshal and Legion for the next five years? Perhaps the next decade? The uncertainty overwhelmed him at times and more often than not all he could do was silently tend to his duties to escape from those thoughts. It was during dull moments of leisure like this that he found the clarity to overthink and question his future. He stopped pacing and faced Friuli, wide eyed, wondering whether or not he should say anything or see where the man was going with it.

"I was not there at Faustino, but I see it in the way you look at me from time to time. I did not kill your brother and I truly am sorry for your loss. It was the Marshal Ongaro you all faced out there. I think that if I had been there that day things may have gone differently...."

"So if you were calling the shots there, and not Bart the Butcher, my brother Paolo would still be alive and I'd have spent the New Year at home?"

"That's what they're calling him these days?" Friuli questioned with a chuckle, "I know this may be hard for you but you must take it upon your self to not see me as your oppressor. I promise that you will be free to go home to Sassara one day. I cannot say what could have happened or certainly what will. I can tell you a quote I was taught as boy however; when you find yourself in times of chaos and trouble you should not ask why you are there or why this is happening to you but rather what is it that you can do in the midst of it all?"

Vincenzo was perplexed and hesitant to respond, begrudgingly accepting the embrace that Friuli gave him as he walked forward, "If it were up to the butcher, you your father and brother would have hung from the ramparts of Fortezza Nuoro alongside Empiaganto. I refused to let that happen because you are apart of Parthonopia's future. So is your brother and father, myself, and even Ongaro. One day the events that led us all together will be a distant memory and it will be our cooperation that drives this nation forward. I want you to think about this, I've decided to give you a few days to yourself after tonight. There is a spare chamber in my hall that you can stay in, return to me in L'Aquila in two weeks time with a clear head."

Friuli patted the boy on the shoulder and Vincenzo seemed relieved at the thought of some time off, albeit not under his own terms, "But do not think I am being soft on you, boy. I will have eyes on you, do not think this is a two week head start to Logudoro."

"Of course not, my Lord. I am deeply grateful for the time, sir."

"Of course. Now let's go inside, it is a little chilly out here isn't it?"

They entered the castle and followed the music reverberating down the halls to the main gathering hall where the party was already in full swing. The ornate feast hall was in better shape than Friuli recalled it to have been the last time he was there almost a year ago, with fresh coats of paint on the wall, new tapestries, and the rust scrubbed off of all of the candle mounts on the walls. Waiters wove through the crowd with platters of cocktails and antipastos; the whole room was invitingly warm, in contrast to the outdoors, and smelled of meat and cheese. The gala that the Duke Carlo was hosting was in honor of the new year, of course, but also to prompt an early arrival for the delegations from the many Parthonopian fiefs that he had invited for talks the coming week. Nobles danced and drank, chatting between courses of food.

Friuli scoped out his surroundings and leaned in to speak to Vincenzo, having to raise his voice slightly to be heard, "Your brother is not here but he will be in town for the convention this week. Go mingle, have fun tonight. I will have a runner bring you the info on where he is staying and when so you two can catch up on your break. Don't do too much drinking and make a fool of me now," he smiled and patted Vincenzo on the back, pushing him off into the crowd. He tweaked his mustache quickly and took off in a different direction, eventually coming onto the Duke Carlo who was rubbing shoulders with a crowd of coastal nobles, all of them consumed in laughter with drinks in their hands, enduring one of Duke Egidio of Massa's long anecdotes.

Friuli recognized most of the group, although not having met several of them before. The Duke of Irpino, the Baron of Capo Lento, the Viscount of Villacidra, and of course the Duke of Massa all stood out as recognizable but the man who, in Friuli's opinion, stood uncomfortably close to Duke Carlo was some one he had not seen before, in person or in pictures. Carlo's eyes lit up at the sight of Friuli and took the chance to escape Egidio's story, hailing over a waiter to give Friuli a glass of wine and refill his.

"Ah Ignazio, I was curious if you received my invitation! Here take this," he handed him a cup before gesturing to the man next to him whose beady eyes were peering over the rim of the cup to his mouth to look Friuli over, "this is Chancellor Luco Villo of Sapri, from the Marcomer Republic. He decided to catch a taste of the Ancona high life before getting into the brain numbing nitty-gritty of politics the rest of this week. Signore Villo, this is the Field Marshal Friuli."

Luco Villo nodded his head and extended his hand out to shake Friuli's, the two quickly exchanging the gesture, "Yes, I have heard all about his journey. In fact, the Field Marshal and his men aren't too far away from my home these days. Cheers, it is a pleasure to meet."

Friuli raised his glass with Villo and the Duke, "Yes, sir, as it is mine. Maybe in a few months time you can quarter me and my men when we inevitably chase the brigands down to your shore," he said slightly jokingly.

Villo raised an eye brow as he downed the last of his glass and waved his hand about as he spoke, "And I would be more than inclined to do so, I would be eager to extend a helping hand."

Carlo was grinning and shaking his head up and down, his cheeks were red and flush from the drinking he had been doing for most of the day. Friuli sipped at his wine and found himself caught in a conversation with Luco as Carlo slipped back into the throng engaged in the third retelling tonight of an escapade from Duke Egidio's youth. "I must say, Chancellor, I am surprised to see such an eager disposition to help us out from the ruler of one of the very few republics in the Parthonopia region."

"Why might that be? Believe it or not we share some rather similar goals. I've been speaking with your Duke for most of the night and I think we can all make great things happen together. You only just got in didn't you? Come, let's walk and talk and grab a bite to eat," Friuli reluctantly followed the man to the center of the room where the banquet was laid out. The usual suspects and several other larger nobles were posted up by the tables, plates of cheese in their hands and crumbs tumbling down from their chests and collecting at their feet.

Villo turned his head to face Friuli as he spoke, loading slices of bread and soppressata onto a plate, piling roasted red peppers on top and grabbing a chunk of cheese with it. Friuli nibbled on some prosciutto as he scanned the room, unintentionally blanking Villo out, "I can see what Duke Carlo's goal is, and what he is having you do too. I know I can be a valuable ally in this effort, with the Marcomer Republic behind you any other more liberal states will fall right in line. Not to mention one hundred percent consolidation of the coast..."

"What has Duke Carlo spoken to you about?" Friuli interjected

"Unification, Field Marshal," Villo said almost as a question, "not to say it wasn't more than apparent to any keen observers. Have no fear though, I won't reveal your secrets. No, in fact I truly do wish to help."

"And what happens when the next Chancellor comes along? And he disagrees with you? Do you all pass along agendas in Sapri or does it wildly change from one leader to the next?"

Villo scoffed, "The next election isn't for another three years. And even so, I can comfortably say that I have a feeling I will be the only Chancellor of this republic for quite some time. Something I think we can work out as official in return for my unfaltering support..."

"Ah I see where this is going," Friuli was still scanning the room, truly in no mood for politicking at this time, and at long last he found his escape plan and jumped on it with haste. He finished his glass of wine and put it down on the banquet table, turning to Villo and shaking his hand while tepidly saying, "well it was good we talked. I have to be off now but I look forward to working with you in the future. Keep in touch."

Friuli practically skipped away and crept up behind the woman that caught his attention. The long red dress of her ball gown swooped across the floor behind her with a bounce as she elegantly moved through the crowd that would part around her. Friuli gently tapped her shoulder and she spun around, her eyes lighting up and mouth opening as he said, "Princepessa you are stunning, dangerously so. It is an honor to see you."

Much to his surprise she rushed into his arms and gave him a strong embrace, only peeling away long enough to plant a kiss on his cheek and exclaim, "Ignazio! It has been too long, I'm ashamed to say it but I think I may have missed you," she said kidding as she playfully poked him in the ribs. Friuli laughed it off and apologized to her for his absence, although not owing her one. He had a hand on her shoulder and was gazing into her eyes, the sounds and sights of the crowd drowning out around him. For once she was not pulling away and seemed to be sharing in the same moment that he was. The band finished the piece they were playing and paused briefly as they changed their sheet music; shortly after they began to play a waltz and Eliza smiled, placing a hand on Ignazio's shoulder.

"Oh!" She said with delight, leaning her head back, "I love this song. They played it at Carlo and I's wedding, but you know he never was one to like to dance."

Friuli grinned and let out a laugh, placing a hand on her hip under the arm she had extended out to him. He placed his other hand on her shoulder and pulled her in closer at the waist, "I wouldn't either if I had the rhythm he does."

Eliza snorted an obnoxious laugh and hid her face, burying it in Friuli's chest before playfully slapping him there, "Stop it! And you are the dancing master of Ancona, hm?"

"Never said I was, how about you join me for this song," he had already begun the steps to the waltz, Eliza instantly synchronizing with him, "and you be the judge of whether or not I deserve that title."

She giggled along with him and nodded in agreement, mid stride in the center of the floor, and said with a smile "I would love to."

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Postby Parthonopia » Thu Apr 19, 2018 9:30 pm

"Capricho Árabe"

Mid Afternoon
Albergo Raffaele, Ancona
7th of January, 2013


Sitting alone in a corner booth, sipping his glass of brandy, Vincenzo Fiorino gave a nod to the bartender who was the only other person in the hotel plaza bar along with him. The bartender grunted and gave it no further attention, instead scrubbing the same mug he had been scrubbing for the past fifteen minutes with his dirty, yellow dish rag. Vincenzo raised his glass out in front of him, examined its many water spots and fingerprints, and gave a toast to no one in particular before slugging the rest of the drink down. He slammed the glass down on the table, perhaps a bit too forcefully as he drew a dirty look from the bartender with it. He gestured to the man for another and the man took his sweet time in doing so, barely lifting his feet off the ground as he begrudgingly strolled over to the table and placed it down. Vincenzo thanked him and both men turned their attention to the door as his brother and three household guards entered. The bartender retreated behind his counter as the Fiorino brothers rushed up to each other and embraced.

"Lorenzo!" Vincenzo nearly shouted as he got up from his booth and met him. Lorenzo did not move with as much haste but met his brother with open arms. He patted him on the shoulders and pinched his little brother's cheeks, the two of them then walking side by side to the booth. Lorenzo instructed his guards to relax with a hand movement and shouted to the bartender, "Signore, two more of what he is having. And a pitcher of wine with four cups, I'll be taking the tab."

"Brother, it is so good to see you," Lorenzo said, taking a seat across from him, "I wasn't sure when or if I'd get the chance to again."

Vincenzo waved him off and sarcastically replied, "Don't make me blush," raising his glass to his brother's eye level and this time toasting with some one. They clanged glasses and each took a swig, Lorenzo teasing his brother after about the choice of liquor. Vincenzo rolled his eyes, "So tell me what is going on. How have you been?"

Lorenzo gave a mighty sigh and buried his head in his arms on the table. He lifted it back up to pour a glass of wine for himself and began to explain, "Things are different now... I don't know what to say, I mean with Paolo gone.. and, well," he placed the pitcher down and looked up at the ceiling as if what he was trying to say was written up there for him. He looked at his brother and shrugged and, taking a sip before continuing, "Like today for example, this was the official start of this Convention on the Cormor. And brother when I say everyone south of Avelino was there, I am not lying to you. But delegates have been here for almost a week already, some more! Making back room deals and concessions left and right and then today in that hall, the coastal nobles might as well have jerked off Carlo right then and there. It's a shit show, it only took four hours to get everyone in there to agree to outlaw condottieri and applaud the mighty Field Marshal's valiant efforts. Before I left half the room was in an up roar about disarming private citizens across the fiefs."

Lorenzo just shook his head, looking down at the ground by Vincenzo's feet who moved them when he noticed this and spoke up, "How's father?"

"You know how he is. He still hasn't accepted Paolo's death."

Vincenzo nodded and he gulped as he reluctantly asked a question he felt too compelled to not say, "And about with me? Has he said anything?"

When his brother spoke, Lorenzo would look him in the eyes and give clear confirmation he was listening. He would try to do so as he spoke himself as well but he turned away to the wall, unable to make eye contact, as he asked in response, "Do you really want know the answer to that?"

They were both silent for a moment, slumping back in their seats. Vincenzo nodded and mumbled no to his brother but had uttered it so softly that it was inaudible. He quickly got caught up in surveying the dreary scenery he had already memorized from the hour or so spent staring at it before his brother arrived; dark wood booths, tables and chairs with a worn red upholstery, the corners of which on the booths were ripped revealing the padding within. A chest high sill, lined with planters and replica statues of Antiquity classics, separated the bar dining area from the plaza of the hotel, a concrete archway painted white to resemble marble at the center as the entrance. The alternating black and white square floor tiles gave a hospital atmosphere to the whole place but the cleanliness left much to be asked. Lorenzo's guards were idling about, one leaning on the sill by the archway smoking a cigarette while the other two sat at the table adjacent to the Fiorino brothers, pretending they were not listening to the conversation between the two of them as they finished off the pitcher Lorenzo ordered.

"Some people approached us recently about a way to fix all of this."

"What do you mean, who?" Vincenzo sat up, leaning his elbows on the table. "Me and father." Lorenzo quickly replied as Vincenzo winced and said poignantly, "No, who approached you? What do you mean?"

"It was a little sketchy, frankly. They work for someone with a name I'd know you would recognize but it wasn't one of them. Does Foderati ring a bell?"

"No," Vincenzo replied astonished although he did recognize the rather famous last name of one of the urban legends of condottieri. "What do they have to do with anything?"

"Besides owning the most land out of any non noble family, they still have quite the influence some how, with out the titles. They kept alluding, though, that someone who does was backing them. Who that is I do not know. It is tempting I must admit. More so for father than me, but I'm not sure if it's for the right reasons."

Vincenzo was getting a little annoyed with the series of vague answers and recalled for a second, not so fondly, how of the three siblings Lorenzo was always pegged, as a child, as the future politician of the family. Military history, as with all three of the boys, was his favored subject but Vincenzo wondered if things would be different if him and his brothers had studied words instead of war. "What did they want, brother? What are you getting at?"

"They want Logudoro's support in battle. This time we ca-"

"What?!" Vincenzo roared, "Are you crazy? So Paolo and three thousand others dead in Faustino wasn't enough?"

Lorenzo leaned into his brother from across the table rather aggressively and put one finger to his mouth to quiet down the out cry, "Watch what you're yelling first off! Hear me out, we won't make a move for a few months, not until spring at least. Probably in late March. In the mean time, we are raising a force at home and when the time comes we will meet with a united Foderati force and supported by this unnamed Duke and his company. We will out number them and crush them while they are divided, mustache first and then that bastard butcher after. You can help brother," Vincenzo was shaking his head no but Lorenzo insisted, "I can send some one with you back to your abductor's camp and we can remain in contact. Feed us his movements and strengths and weaknesses. Together we can fix, we can change it. This doesn't have to be how it ends for us, Vin, it doesn't."

"And you think this is a good idea?" Vincenzo said smugly, emptying his glass and pouring another.

Lorenzo shrugged but replied with a clear confidence in his voice, "I think that if it wasn't, fate wouldn't have given us the chance to speak with each other right now."

The two had locked eyes and were caught in a staring contest for moment until they were interrupted as the hotel plaza began to come alive with noise, a flood of businessmen and several parties of delegations from the convention returning from their days out in the city. Lorenzo who had turned his head around to see the commotion himself spun back around and looked his brother over. Vincenzo still had his eyes on the crowd when his brother said, "We can talk more about this later, you can come up to my room. Let's just enjoy these drinks for now, right brother?"

"Right." Vincenzo toasted him with the wine he had and took a sip after, surprised to see his brother waving the bartender over to order another round of brandy for them.

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Postby Parthonopia » Tue Apr 24, 2018 8:25 pm

"Ave Maria"

Afternoon
La Rocca Abbaziale, Lepanto
Duchy of Irpino
2nd of April, 2013


"Sister? Brother? Is that you?"

Field Marshal Friuli, his Aide-de-Camp Vincenzo Fiorino, and General Aroldo Bichieri, the field commander of the Parthonopian Legion forces in the Duchy of Irpino, stood in the sunlight of a courtyard garden buried deep within the abbey, designed as a castle, that the Pagano family called home in the seat of power of the fief. The complex contained three distinct buildings, each designed in a different architectural style, that were interwoven into the side of the hill that the city of Lepanto was centered around. Designed as a castle to establish control over the surrounding town it was constructed with fortifications, prison cells, a watchtower, apartments and a chapel dedicated to San Tomas. The castle was damaged by an earthquake in 1349 and was abandoned before being looted and further damaged by townsfolk and was left uninhabited for many years thereafter. In the late 1400's, the castle was restored by the cardinal Rodrigo Badoglio who expanded the fortifications to defend the oldest part of the building. The castle was eventually purchased by the Pagano family who further restored it as well as the town surrounding.

Over the course of six hundred years Pagano Dukes came and went, further building and expanding the city limits, everything leading up to the booming industrial complex that the modern Lepanto had become. La Rocca Abbaziale was sheltered from the unending traffic and depressing scenes of factory life with the more lavish housing for the elite and barracks surrounding it for a few miles. In the garden courtyard the three men present could not hear the sounds of machinery and cars honking, only the pleasant songs of the many Cetti's warblers that fluttered back and forth between the trees. There was a large stone wall off to their right and to their left a marble balcony laid into the ground and partially cantilevered over the hill that gave a magnificent look out to the city below. Back behind them was the building through which they came and in front of them, standing in the large doorway of the building a few paces and two small stair steps away, was a man squinting in the sun light, his hands out reached in front him inquisitively.

"Rina? Are you there?"

Aroldo and Vincenzo shared puzzled expressions between each other before turning to Friuli, who stood at the center, to see his response. He was equally confused and paused as he formulated a response beyond simply saying no. Before he had the chance to say anything else another man rushed up to the door way from inside. Panting, he placed his hands on his knees and hunched over briefly as he caught his breath. He rose up to his full height shortly after and placed a hand on the back of the man who stood blocking the entrance. The man jumped from fright when he was touched and bolted back down the hallway he came from with a weird gait, seemingly running on the side of his feet.

"Signore Field Marshal and company, it is good to have you," said the man left in the doorway, still breathing heavily, "I am sorry about that. That was Gennaro, he has the congenital cataracts like his father. Admitting not as bad but still truly a shame." The man stood there and crossed his arms and shook his head as he looked down at the ground below. A short moment of silence and he perked back up and excitedly proclaimed with a bow, "Any who! Please, come in. Welcome! Duke Bertrando is waiting for you."

He turned around and walked into the building, the three Legion commanders following in suite. Aroldo quickly scaled the steps and was down the hall way directly in tow with their greeter, Friuli and Vincenzo a bit slower in their movements; Vincenzo did so as he was a bit skeptical due to the strange greeting they were met with, Friuli however had his attention caught by the beautiful and amazingly mostly intact frescoes that lined the hallway. The man at the helm of the procession led them through what looked like a religious art gallery as they passed paintings and crosses of intensifying size and decoration.

"Oh! How rude of me," the man shouted at the front of the group, continuing forward without even glancing backwards as he spoke, "my name is Settimo Pittaluga. I am a Councillor of Duke Bertrando's, I know you have been dealing mostly with Commander Vanni."

"Yes, Signore Belluomo has been very helpful," Friuli responded as they approached what he assumed was the room he was being led to. Settimo opened the door and the four of them entered a large rectangular living room with the two longer walls lined with floor to ceiling book cases filled with books and albums on CDs and cassettes. A large bay window with an upholstered, built in bench below it, gave a similar vantage of the skyline as on the courtyard balcony. At the center of the wall opposite the window was a massive wooden cross, a fresco of a heavenly scene of clouds and angels floating with golden trumpets to their mouths inlaid behind and around the cross. A clear and crisp quality track of classical music was playing in the background just loud enough to not prevent conversation. Friuli scanned the room as he walked in but could not locate the speakers, instead noticing a projector on the back wall that was spreading out scenes of combat from the Olympian War on the screen rolled down in front of the book shelves to the right of the door.

At the center of the room facing the projector screen was a long leather couch atop an ornate oriental rug, the man who had first greeted Friuli and company, Gennaro Pagano, awkwardly seated at the right arm of it. He was supinating his feet inwards, so that the soles were facing and touching, as he tucked his elbows into his stomach and weaved his fingers together between his legs. His long, dark, knotted hair hung down into his lap as he was leaned forward in this position. Directly to the right of the couch, the arms touching, was a cushiony, red recliner with the stoically still Duke of Irpino, Bertrando Pagano, leaned back in it clutching a coffee mug as he eerily stared in the direction of the door with his opaque, lifeless eyes. Sitting next to Gennaro was Irpino's military commander, Vanni Belluomo, who was watching the silent pictures on the screen intently. Gennaro unlocked his hands for a moment and hung over the coffee table in front of the couch from his seat as he shuffled his hand around a section of it until he grabbed a remote. Instantly the calm, tranquil orchestral melody was interrupted with an explosion and a chorus of small arms fire succeeded by more explosions.

A sleep inducing, monotone voice was narrating the video in Almerish, dates and locations being the only words clearly understood by anyone present. Gennaro placed the remote down back where he had found it and grabbed a cup off the table before lifting his feet up onto the couch and crossing his legs together to sit pretzel style. He stuck his hand into the cup and pulled out several ice cubes that he tossed into his mouth and started loudly chewing on.

"Field Marshal Friuli," Bertrando croaked from his recliner without turning his head, "who else is with you?"

There were two more chairs in the room on the other side of the coffee table and facing the couch; Friuli walked to the one on the right, closer to the Duke, and took a seat. Aroldo and Vincenzo walked up to the chair to the left and both remained standing in front of it. Friuli responded, "One of my generals, my Lord, Aroldo Bichieri, and my personal aide Vincenzo Fiorino, Signore. Thank you for having us."

"Of course," Bertrando said as he sat the recliner straight up, "please, have a seat. Make yourself comfortable, Field Marshal."

Aroldo looked back and forth and sat down, Vincenzo stood behind Aroldo's chair and faced the couch. The elderly Vanni Belluomo nodded to Aroldo and Friuli, his thick, slicked back hair, streaked with gray, bounced as he did so. Settimo, who had been pacing back and forth behind Friuli, Vincenzo, and Aroldo, had navigated his way around the room and behind the two blind Paganos in their seats. With Bertrando facing Friuli and Gennaro facing the screen, everyone else turned to face the opening door in the back of the room as a tall, slender brunette strolled in. The red stiletto heels at the end of her long legs, visible past her dress, clacked on the tile floor as she walked to the couch and waved hello to the company before taking a seat next to Gennaro. He was still sitting cross legged and finishing chewing a mouthful of ice, a lock of his bangs hanging out the corner of his mouth as he chewed and still connected to his scalp.

Aroldo could not stop watching Gennaro and stared at him with his eyebrows furrowed, increasingly perplexed with each passing moment. Friuli turned to his General who was so engaged with his focus that he did not notice Friuli's dirty look and sigh to himself before turning back to the Duke and the couch, "I wanted to thank you personally, my Lord, for all of the aid you and your Duchy have provided us so far. I have been in Lepanto for over two months now and have yet to have the chance to sit and speak with you in person here."

"Time flies when you are having fun right? Now did you say Fiorino before? Like in Logudoro?"

"Yes," Friuli said blankly. Bertrando nodded and turned his head to the general direction Vincenzo was, "Which one are you boy? It's been ages since I have seen most of the Fiorino's."

"The youngest, my Lord," Vincenzo answered, clearing his throat.

"That's nice," Bertrando said somewhat smugly, "I saw your father and oldest brother in Ancona a little over a year ago. His name is Pietro, right? He grew up to be quite a man, I was at his baptism and christening you know. How is he?"

Vincenzo, clearly uncomfortable, took a hand from behind his back and tugged at his collar before turning to Friuli and giving him an anguished look in an attempt for some relief from his awkward position. The tense silence following the question was unnoticed due to the sounds of the repetitive rattling of sub machine guns and roaring engines of tanks revving up and over entrenchments. Aroldo could not help but to quickly and quietly snicker to himself. The documentary's soundtrack took a dark turn as there was a close up of General Rangelen of Budery before a panning shot over destruction and littered bodies in Drommel. The woman who had walked in earlier broke the silence by placing a hand on Gennaro's knee and saying, "Do you mind if we lower this, sweetie, we have guests."

Gennaro sat motionless while the woman reached out for the remote and muted the shelling of some Parthonopian village by Produz-Amidian artillery. With his chiseled facial features and indented chin, Gennaro was a reasonably handsome man if not for his cataracts and poor muscle tone. Almost instantly as the sound was stopped, he leaped from his seat and onto the arm of the couch facing his father. He appeared to viciously clasp Bertrando's head with both hands, one on the forehead and the other gripping the back, and began to aggressively whisper into his ear. When he was done he let go and Bertrando turned to his son and they locked hazy, impenetrable eyes before Bertrando turned away and laughed aloud heartily. Gennaro took his seat back and put his arms around the woman, placing his head on her shoulder.

"Your service at the past Convention was invaluable, my Lord. I'm sure you will be at the next one in June?" Friuli questioned, using all of his will power and self control to ignore that previous outburst.

Bertrando nodded his head, "I wouldn't miss it for the world."

"Of course. I couldn't think of a reason why you would want to, you made out quite well last time. Irpino is going to be the industrial capital of all the Parthonopian states. I heard of some of the contracts that were written up for equipment for the Legion alone."

"With good reason. No other lord has the relationship with labor coalitions like I do." The old duke said proudly, putting his right thumb to his chest.

"Labor coalitions," Aroldo laughed, "they must be tough to deal with. Condottieri with hammers and tapes measures, am I right?"

No one in the room was amused and Aroldo shut his mouth and slunk into his a seat a bit deeper. The woman and the duke simultaneously cleared their throats, noticeably loud to prove their point and Bertrando began speaking by pointing at her, "This positive relationship can widely be attributed to my lovely daughter-in-law. Did wonders in further bridging the gap and settling the differences between myself and her uncle, Frediano the labor leader. I thought I heard you come in, Olivia, correct?"

Olivia smiled and blushed, "Yes, Poppa, I am here."

"I thought so, very nice," Bertrando smiled and continued in Friuli's direction, "now that pesky uncle is my most trusted adviser and the High Councillor. Those manufacturing contracts of Duke Carlo's would not get completed with out Frediano's involvement."

"Right, well I thank you, from myself and for Duke Carlo as well," Friuli said dryly, "well I brought General Bichieri with me because, as you agreed to in January, I will be setting up a semi permanent base of operations in Lepanto. Like I've said, you have been nothing but a tremendous help with that so far, however unfortunately I will be departing soon and traveling to Fortezza Nuoro to mobilize the new divisions in time for the next convention. Aroldo will take up full command of the Legion here in my absence and I want him to work closely with you and to your best interests."

"Poppa!" Was shouted from the doorway of the entrance Friuli and crew had come through and all three of them, startled, spun around to see who had exclaimed it. Bertrando smiled from ear to ear and Gennaro let go of his wife and hopped up from his seat shouting his sister's name, Rina. Friuli turned pale to the sight of a man about his age who sauntered forward with his arm around the ecstatic woman, tiny in comparison, who had just shouted.

"Ah, the mustached mongoose," the man proclaimed mockingly as he approached Friuli who was still seated. This time Vincenzo snickered quietly to himself. "It has been quite a few years since I have seen you last, Ignazio."

Friuli leaped up from the chair and extended his hand out to shake the mans, "Yes, Eligio, quite a few. Yet I seem to see your father and sister all of the time?"

Eligio shook Friuli's hand and closed his eyes, grinning, and said, "Yes, I've been busy with life. Some similar things as you I hear, building armies and making deals, right? How is Eliza, by the way?"

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Postby Parthonopia » Wed Apr 25, 2018 1:51 pm

"Il Barbiere di Siviglia"

Mid Morning
City of Ancona
3rd of June, 2013


The sun was steadily rising over the gently rolling hills, covered in homes and grass, that surrounded the city of Ancona on three sides. The fourth side of the city, to the west, was formed by the natural contours of the roaring Cormor River. The morning work rush was just getting underway so the maze of roads were yet to be inundated with the combined flood of pedestrians and angry motorist commuters who shared the narrow roadways. From a distance the early stream of traffic and people out and about, starting their days, was undetectable. Despite the tranquil air of the scene of this seemingly peaceful, beautiful city, the fate of the history of this city and of this country was in the making today. This was the prologue of a very delicate, potentially disastrous, time for the region of Parthonopia. Parthonopia had not been a consolidated, unified country for hundreds of years; instead various cities, counties, towns, and villages throughout the land containing the Parthonopian ethnic people was ruled by the local leaders who retained control through subsistence living for the working people and the use of mercenary armies. Ancona was the bastion of Parthonopia culture and history, having been the historical capital of the former Parthonopian Kingdom, whereas the current state of the many fiefs was bleak; many were starving, unable to produce enough food to be sustainable by themselves. Duke Carlo, who saw the opportunity presented to him, had put all of his efforts into an end goal of absolute Parthonopian unification.

Which is why the Field Marshal Friuli and his army was bivouacked where it was, just outside of Ancona city limits. As his troops reported to the parade field out front of his command post and he readied to inspect them, over two hundred men and women were gathering in the hall of the Castello D'Comor. The crowd gathered in the large reception hall consisted of most of the local lords, dukes, earls, margraves, counts, captains and mayors of the many villages, towns, and cities of the greater Parthonopia proper. They had been extended an invitation six months prior of the momentous occurrence they were participating in, to gather in Ancona and hold the second of such a meeting, and what would be called the Convention on the Cormor. As planned in the previous, less official convention, they had been called upon this time around to use their authorities as the leaders of the nation to unite and form a Commonwealth government, ruled by the Convention as a legislature, to begin the process of eventually forming Parthonopia into one autonomous nation. Having reconvened on the first day of June, the participants of the talks had been locked disagreement on several issues since then. Duke Carlo had been anxious to announce the conclusion of the forming of a commonwealth and more importantly the reasoning for the position of over one hundred thousand soldiers outside of the city.

The locals had been aware of the mysterious meeting taking place in the Castello D'Cormor, the recent influx of dignitaries and armed guards from the many Parthonopian states in Ancona's hotels and inns having given it away. However they were not, until now, aware of what the Convention was about. The crumbling cobble streets of Ancona were a buzz with energy and excitement; children ran in groups to witness the parading of the largest army they had ever seen in their lives while their parents gathered on the corners to revel in the same view. The news was being shouted from the rooftops at this point, only having been announced officially around nine in the morning, just as the majority of the workers of the city were beginning their work day. A surprise to most, however not one that was unappreciated; in fact, the people of Ancona had a glow in their face as the thousands of soldiers that had so ominously been camped outside the city limits were filling the streets. Bands were playing at every turn and the choir of San Vito Cathedral had been summoned and was singing triumphantly the Hallelujah chorus of Handel's Messiah, among other patriotic and victory themed songs, on the once grand front steps to the cathedral. Work was cancelled and stores were closed as the tradesmen, laborers, shop owners, and workers of the city were all flooding the streets, slowly gathering towards the cathedral and the Castello D'Cormor.

The morning announcement, however tremendous, had left the population of the city, although inspired, but wanting of answers. The only news given was that of a new, unified Parthonopian government, the creation of an assembly comprised of the attendees of the Convention on the Cormor, and the upgrading of Ancona from a duchy to a principality (at the same time upgrading Carlo of the House Ciaia to Prince Carlo della Ancona). No news as to what the powers of the Convention entailed or if the assembly was the leadership of a new nation, Carlo as a figurehead. There had been talk of a constitution, yet none had been presented. The people were excited for the potential prosperity a cooperating Parthonopia could bring yet were frightened of the potential troubles that a direct aggression to the Treaty of Oliviera, and it's reworkings in the Treaty of Aquileia, would enact.

As the people were streaming with energy outside the Castello, the lords within were hot with fiery debate. They too were still unsure as to the exact ins and outs of how this new coalition would work themselves. They did know, however, that the House of Ciaia would not be given absolute power and would instead retain power over its current holdings and serve as a figurehead capitol for the infant commonwealth. They also knew that there would be a constitution governing the Convention, and roughly what it entailed, the final version projected to be released to the people the following day. On most topic beyond that, the diplomats in the hall were in stiff disagreement, heated debate and rhetoric filling the air of the castle.

The most argued topic being that of if there would be a constitutional executive leader, and for that matter who and what title he would even carry. Many in attendance were still unsure if they even fully supported the efforts of unifying Parthonopia in the first place, the more staunchly opposed state leaders avoiding the conference altogether and remaining at home in their fiefs, praying this storm would bubble over soon. The Convention would vote and choose whether or not a leader was necessary if the Convention truly was purely a coalition of local leaders to gather every three months and discuss issues affecting the larger Parthonopian region. Many of the nobles present had only agreed thus far under the pretense that the Commonwealth was just that, not a unified Parthonopian nation but a collective assembly of all the Parthonopian nations. Working together towards goals of higher development, universal currencies, and some standardized laws was not something anyone opposed; using these platforms as a facade for a greater unification movement and a federal government was opposed, however, and staunchly by quite a few. The looming army outside loyal to its commanders, who were loyal to only a handful of leaders and specifically those in favor of unification, helped stir sentiments of doubt in the Duke, now Prince, Carlo's intentions.

The reception hall that was hosting the Convention on the Cormor was large room that, having been last remodeled over four decades prior, was a shell of the beauty and grandeur it was once was. The tapestries on the walls, depicting scene of the history and tales of Parthonopia, were faded and dusty; the ceiling had cracks and ripples in the masonry, although only an aesthetic, not structural, issue. The acoustics were almost deafening as every word uttered within it would echo through out. The convention was hosted in the hall with fifty long tables being placed in a square formation, the seats arranged four to a table facing the center of the square. At the center of the square was a stage, although more similar to a soap box. Friuli sat and watched patiently the debates the rage, his highest ranking captains and counsel alongside him. He remained still and stone faced, not entering into debate but observing everything. As the conveners in the hall were discussing the intricacies of who the Convention answered to, if anyone, the large wooden double doors were slammed shut and at each two men, rifles held tightly across their chests, were posted in front of them. Friuli had handpicked the soldiers he had chosen to do this task, only picking the tallest men first. Then from the tallest men of the army picking the most ugly, scarred, scary looking of them. He had no intention of slaughtering those he had just trapped in the hall, although he would not be against it had it been necessary. This move was purely for show and for effect, which worked accordingly.

The noble Field Marshal stood at the top of the crowd as the assembly was still discussing, although the volume slowly lessening to a murmur before silence as all eyes fell upon him as he looked about, surveying the whole square surrounding him. "For one hundred years, the Parthonopian people have had the ultimate freedom; that of having no ultimate government, only that of the localities they knew and lived with. Freedom in turn gave the states you lords rule death, disease, famine, and poverty. This region has been a network of poor villages fighting amidst the chaos that total freedom provides. Each of us here has seen the workers of our lands slowly starve and many perish. I have had a vision of a prosperous Parthonopia, one where our streets are paved and our markets are filled with fresh foods. I see a great nation where our people have work to do, and work that furthers the prosperity of the nation. I see a strong military, and an undefeatable standing army! I have the vision and I have the plan and I have the army to carry it out outside. Now, already foreign powers have heard of our trials and tribulations in the process of unification thus far. Some have made statements of their recognition of what is going on in Parthonopia. Simultaneously, civilian reports and military surveillance shows a clear build up of armed forces in the Etrurian, Wintonian, and Produz occupied lands of our people. I ask of you all, what do these powers fear so much?"

Friuli paused for dramatic effect and paced his way along the inside perimeter of the tables of nobles he was addressing. He locked eyes with each one as he passed them, many he recognized from his travels over the past year. He was making a mental note of each person, where they sat and their facial expression as he passed them. Half way around the congregation he realized that he had not yet seen several highly recognizable people, most specifically the Duke of Irpino and the Duke of Logudoro.

"I can tell you what they fear; they fear is Parthonopians working together for a greater good for ourselves. They fear that a unified Parthonopia will root out its oppressors and with unhindered development be able to far surpass any Liran power, in the past present or future! I am going to leave you all now for a few hours to contemplate your decisions. You will be complicit in the further raping of our people, culture and land? Or will you all rise to the occasion and join those around you who refuse to be a bystander in our degradation anymore?"

Friuli nodded to himself and began to walk out of the hall but was stopped as a familiar voice, that of Duke Egidio of Massa, shouted from behind him, "My good friends, haha! The Field Marshal Friuli is correct, our fiefs, this land, Parthonopia, can no longer succeed separated. The same imperialist, power hungry leaders who divided the Kingdom in the first place know this and that is why their generations of subsequent, successors have maintained this, haha! We were all, always, well aware that this Commonwealth was not the end of the discussion but only the start! The thesis, haha, if you will. This is the first step in cooperation, a slow, gradual building towards ultimate unification is the only path we have now as a people. The alternative option to continue to wait with our heads in the sand," there was a quick gentle uproar of murmurs between nods of approval and the angry grumblings under the breath of those who felt slighted by the remark, "if we wait, however, the same conclusion will occur. But instead of this just and righteous union of the historic leaders of the fiefs of Parthonopia it will be the ugly consolidation by another foreign power or some traitorous native backed by them. I don't think, haha, I know! I know that the time to decide is now, and we are ready to vote. Field Marshal, stay a moment and see it happen before you."

The elderly, yet revered, Duke Valerio di Giambattista slowly rose from his seat. He began to speak, his long white mustache bouncing as he did so, "This convention has been an outstanding occurrence, and I am honored to have been a valuable part of it. As this is only a day from completion, a constitution brilliantly designed by the many minds and hands here before us to be delivered then. With that said, this assembly has done as we were instructed and first come to a decision upon making this Convention a permanent establishment. Not an easy decision, by any means but it was done. And then the laws the Duke Carlo pushed us pass at home, six months ago. These happened and now you ask even more from us, the true rightful rules of the Parthonopian nations. So therefore, if we must choose out of only one option, I believe we have come to a compromise."

Friuli, intrigued, said nothing, although Duke Valerio seemed to imply he should. Valerio continued, slowly but steadily, "The first, precedent setting legislation of the Convention on the Cormor will be," he pauses for dramatic effect, "the official formation of a Commonwealth government, established with the goal of unifying Parthonopia as one nation over the course of five years."

The assembly applauded and Friuli was pleased, although he knew that was not all the aging duke had to say, "However! This was, as I have formerly mentioned, not an easy decision. Many among us do not agree with the timing of the formation of this Parthonopian Legion, making TV appearances on the news quite often with skirmishes from here to Nuoro. Nor do we agree with Duke Carlo's new name as Prince. That with you, Field Marshal, being strictly loyal to him is all of the ingredients necessary to establish a military dictator regime. So therefore, and I think I am speaking on behalf of the assembly," he turned from side to side with his hands out before him, "that the Parthonopian Legion should swear its loyalty to the Convention instead of any one noble leader to prevent a war as bloody as the last few to destroy our nation. In this role, the Legion will be able to most properly represent the wishes of this assembly and not to one executive leadership in the region." At this time, Duke Valerio leaned over the table in front of him, staring into the Field Marshal's stern eyes, "Is this acceptable terms? For if the Field Marshal does not deem them so, this convention does not deem the terms of unification acceptable! If not granted, we will all return to our realms, and muster forces for the inevitable fight that will bring. So what say you, Signore Friuli?"

Friuli was astonished, however he did not outwardly show it as he took steps forward towards the Duke Valerio, "The terms are agreed, it is done, sir. God bless this convention for it has established a bright future for our country. Thank you all for your service, Long live Parthonopia!"

Every one stood up and applauded thunderously, as Friuli approached the Duke Valerio and shook his hand firmly before walking to the Duke Egidio and thanking him for his frequent and invaluable services in pushing the rest of the nobles towards these decisions. He then departed the reception hall and began to sprint, eager to inform Prince Carlo of his accomplishment.

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Postby Parthonopia » Wed Apr 25, 2018 5:28 pm

"Ave Maria"

Mid Afternoon
Castello d' Cormor, Ancona
3rd of June, 2013


The Field Marshal Ignazio Victor Friuli swiftly walked down the hallowed corridors of the outdated castle, flanked by Vincenzo Fiorino and the Grand Captains Cecilio Di Pietro. Having spent the past several hours since the Field Marshal's speech to the convention in the grand hall brain storming what the next step was, the three men were en route to the chambers of the former duke, now Prince Carlo. Friuli's words were in the thoughts and conversations of every convention attendee and although the official word had not yet been given to the public, it was clear that the assembly would soon complete their constitution and legitimize the establishment of the Convention, the leadership of Parthonopia to be handed to them.

Friuli, however, was not waiting for the official word as he knocked on the study chamber doors of the Prince. The door swung open and Friuli was ushered into the room by a well dressed servant; in front of him was a grand mahogany desk at the center of the room, behind it the back wall was floor to ceiling shelving cluttered with books, sculptures, maps, and cases holding various artifacts. To the right of the desk was a large globe, standing about four feet high and with a diameter of similar size. Seated at the desk was a smiling, middle aged man. The man stood up and walked around the desk to greet Friuli as he entered the chamber.

"Ignazio, you devil, the moment at long last has finally arrived," said the Prince Carlo, smiling from ear to ear as he extended his hand to shake Friuli's.

"Not just yet, my lord, I am still waiting on the word of the convention to finalize their agreement. Which is why I am here, in fact. It is time you address your new nation, monarch," Friuli said with a wink and chuckle.

"That is a brilliant idea, stir up some serious fever and support for unification. This was all along only the first step in many towards our ultimate goal. But first, we toast," Carlo motioned to the servant to who retrieved four glasses and a bottle of wine which he poured into each before passing them out to everyone. They all gathered together in front of the desk and raised their glasses to ceiling, contacting them with a cling and drinking from it after a cheer. Carlo was visibly excited as he walked back around his desk.

"Parthonopia unifies and instantly our coffers expand seven fold! Although a common theme of our opposition is a fear of you becoming a military dictator," the Prince Carlo said to Friuli antagonistically.

Friuli gave Prince Carlo a reluctant grin, "The Parthonopian lords should have no worries of a me taking control and becoming a military dictator. If anything, they should fear the man working behind the scenes, some one in this room might be gunning for King but its not me," he said with a laugh and toasting with Carlo again.

The Prince nodded in agreement, "I will announce the glorious victory of a fractured nation unifying to its people later in evening, perhaps tomorrow. The Convention might still not be ready for a federal government but nothing is stopping it from happening now. A few years to go and I will be making this same announcement, albeit a delayed," he said with a chuckle, "to the rest of the world." Carlo finished his glass and waved over the servant again, handing him his glass. He then motioned for the man to leave and he turned to Vincenzo and Di Pietro who were standing somewhat awkwardly as Carlo and Friuli had chatted.

"Gentlemen, if you would not mind clearing out for a moment, I have some things to discuss with the Field Marshal in private," Carlo put a hand on his desk and stood on his tip toes to sit on the edge of it slight. He nodded and thanked the two men as they exited and turned to Friuli, "Ignazio I am sure you are aware of the Wintonian response to our decree?"

"Yes, Vostra Maestà, I am, with their build up of forces in Puorto Lafina and recent activities in the Bay of Oliviera. I have already discussed several contingencies with Di Pietro, being the largest Legion loyal ground force in that region."

Carlo leaned back and stroked his chin, Friuli noticing the stubble on his face revealing he had opted out of shaving that morning. Carlo motioned to the leather chair sitting in front of his desk and Friuli took a seat as a he walked around sat down in his chair behind it. Carlo placed his hands together down on the desk, not before gently sweeping some imaginary crumbs off of it, and blankly looked up to Friuli who had a similar expression. Carlo turned the lamp on his desk on and cleared his throat, "It is more than that, though, of course."

"What do you mean?" Friuli questioned.

"Did you notice any one missing from the Convention during your visit there this morning? Excluding, of course, any Etruscan or Parranian lords, they weren't even invited. Not yet at least. Specifically no one from the Marcomer Republic made an appearance. The Wintonian occupiers of Puorto Lafina made sure of that with their recent meddling."

Friuli crossed his leg and twiddled the end of his mustache, "That's why there was that emergency election there in May?"

"That is exactly why," Carlo replied energetically, "And the new leadership there, the Governess Luciana Salvai, are much more concerned with protecting their backers interests than aiding in our movement. I have been weighing the option of deploying Di Pietro with a minor contingent to the Barony of Capo Lento to rally that populace for our cause. Knowing how the Wintonians work I am sure they have already contacted the Baron d'Ardore as well to drum up more support for themselves. The Thompson-Ainsworth base is a serious threat to our sovereignty, however we are in no position for an open conflict with the Plutonic Republic at this point. Our best course of action is to work in silence, unaffiliated, in the Republic to restore a government aligned with our interest. In the meantime establishing a military presence in the Barony."

Friuli nodded his head, mulling over the information he was being given, "In January, before the first convention, I met Luco Villo at your New Years ball. He seemed very eager to help our cause, suspiciously eager even. I had waved him off then but perhaps now is the time to call that favor by doing one for him. Di Pietro could equip Villo with the means to stage a coup of his own if he can rally the support for one."

The Prince smiled smugly, shaking his head approvingly, "Than it is settled. Those were my feelings exactly save for one point..."

"And that is?" Asked Friuli inquisitively.

"Di Pietro will be sent to the coastal city of Eolie with six thousand men and wait there for further commands. Over the course of the next few months while you finish sorting out any outstanding issues and organizing the division of the Legion, you must also. I am fearful that the liberal states in this federation will make easy exploitable weak spots for our enemies. Using Villo as a scapegoat for anything that may go wrong in Marcomer leaves the blame far from here and justifies you swooping in to save the day at the end of it all."

"It is agreed, Vostra Maestà, I will get to it immediately." Friuli hopped up from his seat but was stopped with the wave of a hand and sat back down.

"There is more and you will want to be seated for this." Carlo said leaning back in his chair and propping his right leg up on his left knee. Friuli planted his elbows on his knees and his hands to his chin and leaned forward in his seat with a perplexed look on his face, waiting for Carlo to continue. "The Fiorino's did not make it to this convention either. Not the gold Duke Giullame or his son Lorenzo; he was stopped on a southbound highway late last night by several battalions of Ongaro's troop from Fortezza Nuoro. They were moving for an attack, thousands of Logudorons, packed into tractor trailers to conceal their movement. Bart had previous intel on the attack and was able to intercept them without them knowing they were caught."

Friuli just sat there open mouthed, having dropped his hands down to his lap. Carlo continued to detail what had happened in the early morning hours of the day before the sun had even rose, "Trapped them with artillery fire and wiped out most before they even responded, swarming them shortly after. It was barely a fight but he demolished the road way in the process, another expense out of my pocket, but I assume it was worth it. Both Lorenzo and Giullame are dead by now I presume, at least the son is; he never made it out of the truck I was told. A direct impact apparently, what are the odds? No one could ever piece that truck back together let alone him. But you know Bart, Duke Giullame won't be standing when he gets a hold of him and by this time? The man is already hanging I'm sure."

Friuli was thoroughly confused and a little frustrated as he responded, "What do you mean? What would drive them to attack? They have nothing to gain there I just... I'm not sure what to say. I do not know how Vincenzo is going to handle this."

"That's right, he is last Fiorino now, god bless it. How are you going to break it to him?" Carlo shuffled some papers on his desk, the apathy painted on his face.

"I don't plan on telling him for a bit if I can help it."

"That should be easy enough," Carlo interjected, "This is the first you are hearing of it, right? Ongaro does a good job of that, I will say. A bit messy but he quickly cleaned that up and chalked it up to those nasty condottieri rabble. This does make me wonder who else might have been involved though. You do have a good point, there is no realistic reason the Logudorons could have grew the gall to go at this alone. Who do you think prompted this? Or what?"

Friuli looked to the ceiling for answers and raked his brain for them as well, twisting his face in thought until he was reminded of something from earlier in the day, "Duke Bertrando of Irpino was not there today either... the last time I was there I had a bad taste in my mouth."

"He did summon his son-in-law's army to garrison Spini, not thirty miles away from your base in Lepanto," Carlo nodded, "I wouldn't have counted Eligio, my brother-in-law, as a possible threat but with all of this going on, what do you believe?"

Ignazio shook his head back a forth and shrugged, "I think I need to get to Lepanto and start fortifying our position before I go anywhere near the Marcomer Republic."

Carlo continued to nod and said, "I agree. Give me two days here first, however. Make sure Di Pietro gets off alright and the rest of the divisions of that army outside settled in their new locations before you go off gallivanting again. Can you do that for me, Ignazio?"

Friuli shook his head up and down and said firmly, "Yes," as he got up from his seat and shook Carlo's hand before rushing out of the door of the office.
Last edited by Parthonopia on Mon Feb 01, 2021 3:55 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Postby Parthonopia » Wed Apr 25, 2018 6:41 pm

"Per Qualche Dollaro in Più"

Early Morning
Piazza d'Ardore, Eolie
Barony of Capo Lento
16th of January, 2014


"Signore Villo," a polite nod of the head, "Capitano, have the troops been inspected?"

The two men, one clad in the blue and white Ardore military attire and the other in civilian clothes, stood before the Grand Captain Di Pietro. Villo having only just arrived in Eolie was greeted by three thousand Legionnaires the evening before. The Capitano Nero Crocetti had placed his kepi underneath his left armpit, the black peak, light blue side, and white top representing his status as an officer. Sweat was gathering at his brow and the base of his mustache; it was the nervousness of being before the Grand Captain setting in. Crocetti had met Di Pietro before but under much different circumstances; standing on either side of a line of fire with their rifles pointed at each other, the sound of automatic gun fire overwhelming any memories of that day. In the time since he had graciously accepted the offer to keep his life and serve as an officer in the Legion, doing so quietly and with a lack luster effort. For whatever reason, though, Di Pietro had chosen him specifically to command the false flag Legion attachment to the Marcomer insurgents. Perhaps it was the intrigue of Nero being the last surviving Fortezza Grenadier on the earth that had cause him to be sought after.

"Si, Signore. What are our orders?" Luco Villo responded.

"Our orders? You speak like a contadino! You do not receive orders you give them. You are an officer now and only receive orders from myself and Capitano Crocetti if I have instructed him to do so."

"Si, Signore. What are my orders?"

He rose gently, before his two guests in the Capo Lento Baron's study, to turn behind his chair and face the large paneled window. He uncovered the shades and the scene was of the front section of the Piazza d'Ardore and the closest section of the city of Eolie. Two Regiments of Ardore Infantry were lined up in the small parade ground behind the gates and sentry guards could be seen walking the city, manning their posts. The night looked calm and of the usual type; quiet. Street lamps illuminated the roads below, the lighting supplemented by the many headlights of cars and mopeds traversing the city.

"Tonight we free Sapri; there are a thousand Republican Guardsmen garrisoned there. Tonight you will strip them of their posts and replace them with good, loyal Parthonopians. I have assigned two of the Legion's regiments here with me to your command, bolstering the five hundred the Baron so graciously extended to an even thousand. All of whom will be in blue civilian clothing. You informed me that you have a force to draw from waiting outside of Sapri?"

The first fight of a series of battles was nigh, and its commander was anxious, itchy for his first taste of war, "Si, Signore. Close to a thousand proud Parthonopian nationalists rallied to the cause. They more than certainly can be trusted, many if not most of them are members of the Marcomer Nationalist Party and I know them personally."

"Bouna. I wish you good luck gentlemen. Now make haste, the mid night deadline fast approaches."

"Il Triello"

Midnight
Sapri, Marcomer Republic
17th of January, 2014


"Avete visto il nuovo film con Riccardo Butto?" A slightly slurred sentence from a tipsy sentry guard between drags from his cigarette.

"Oh sì, la commedia? Ho visto con mio fratello." The second sentry guard chatted with his buddy, both of them taking sips from a cheap bottle of red wine he had smuggled into his shift. The air was slightly chilly, and it began to sleet gently, ending the lack of precipitation the city had been enjoying all day.

"Chi era l'attrice? Vorrei pagare per incontrare lei in persona!" It was like any quiet night on duty, the time was only passed through stories between his partner and cigarettes.

"Diritto! Camera da letto che scena, wow." Smoke exiting his mouth, a bayonet tip entered his back. The bayonet exited from his stomach, a clean wound going straight through the unsuspecting guard.

The first sentry watched on, first with confusion and then in terror. He dropped his cigarette to the ground scrambling to pick up his rifle which was leaned against the wall. As he did so, he felt his head begin to hammer and he found himself on the floor against the wall next to his gun. His fingertips barely touched the cartridge of his rifle as two more bayonets entered and tore open his stomach. Incapacitated, he died slowly, his vision a white blur, the noise in the background that of gunshots and yelling.

"Fucili a me!" The red and black uniformed officer of the Sapri garrison frantically shouted as he ran down the stone corridor from his post, followed by two more Guardsmen. In a matter of seconds the quiet January night had turned to horror as all of the sentry positions in the city were simultaneously ambushed. In the first minutes of the 'battle' the garrison had faced almost three hundred casualties to only three casualties for the attackers.

"Fucili a me," he shouted again, turning the last corner and running down a short few steps. His rallying order was silenced as he reached the bottom of the steps to stand before seven, or eight, blue clad riflemen. He lived not a minute more as the group served as a firing line, gunning them down, dead in their tracks.

The scene in the courtyard in front of the palace was just as a bad; pairs, or even single riflemen, of the Sapri garrison ran frantically as bands of blue uniformed men chased after them. The Republican Guardsmen had no fighting chance as its posts were for spotting attacks, and defending one from the outside. The swift, sweeping ambush they were enduring had split each and every post into a small island of two guards among a sea of two thousand.

The only bastion of defense left in the whole city was the barracks, which housed only half of the original garrison within it. But as the events of the night unraveled and the sounds of battle could be heard outside, the five hundred or so recently awoken men were dressed and armed. The lines were rough, and the men poorly dressed, but they were as ready as they could ever be for the battle that awaited them.

"When I open these doors, be prepared to fight for your lives! I do not know what awaits us, but be sure it is not pretty! Fucili, Pronto! Carico!" The aged Captain who had never seen a day of combat in his entire career took a deep gulp and tugged at his collar before swinging open the heavy, large, double doors to the barracks, "Anticipo!"

As the first line advanced out of the barracks they were raked with fire tore into their ranks; the two formations resembled two Regiments of Foot going toe-to-toe in linear volley tactics. A regiment of Legion riflemen were waiting in front of the barracks for exactly what had just happened to occur. Screams of terror and pain echoed in the night. A pool of blood seeped onto the wet pavement, but was washed away by the sleet which had become an intense down pour.

The surviving men in the first line from the barracks dropped to their knees and returned fire, the lines behind them shooting as well. The group of riflemen they faced suffered enough casualties that they broke and ran. The Guardsmen exited the barracks fully to be met with a dark, gloomy scene. Garrison soldiers littered the streets with their bodies, laying face down in pools of blood. Houses where Republican Guardsmen officers lived were in flames, as was the back half of the barracks and many homes of senators.

Most of the garrison had never seen combat before in their lives, and the few that did were already dead or two old to make much of a difference. At that moment, the remnants of the garrison were all in the streets before the barracks, having just left it. The others were dead, dying, captured, or had abandoned their posts, leaving the fight to a group of close to five hundred.

The garrison Captain who had thrust open the doors had miraculously survived the volley shot at him and was still barking orders, however his self assurance was questionable, and his doubtfulness in himself and the garrison could be heard in his voice, which was reasonably weaker than before.

"Fucili, siamo circondati! Forma un quadrare adunata!" The men who were not entirely shaken and still had a grasp of what they were doing obeyed their orders and formed a rally square around the Captain. Others were too frightened and routed on the spot; groups of men dropped their rifles and ran through alleys and down streets away from the rest of the garrison. But as they turned corners or came out of certain alleys groups of the enemy's rifles awaited them. Some were merciful and accepted the garrison riflemen's' surrender whilst others were either heartless or surprised and shot from instinct.

The center of the rally square was home to all kinds of chaos. Bullets whirled past and men dropped on all sides. Shouting, gunshots, the cries of the wounded, and even the crackling of the fires made it impossible to hear. Finally the Guardsmen Captain, witless to battle tactics and strategy gave up the rally square and made his final order as an officer, "Dannazione! Ritirata! Ogni uomo per se stesso!"

The rally square instantly broke, and the rifles ran every which way. The Captain split along with the square and followed a group of seven or so Guardsmen. The blue clad riflemen had began to swarm the area the rally square was just stationed, flooding in from every alley way and street. The Sapri garrison riflemen ran straight into the arms of the emotionless bayonets their enemy bore.

Bullets whizzed past the Captain, as he watched his riflemen run, die, and fight in hand-to-hand combat. The group of riflemen he was following continued straight down a road, instinctively he made a quick turn into an alley. Seconds later he heard a volley of gunfire and screams of pain from familiar voices. He continued down the small alley way knowing he was extremely close to death, turning his head around for a second to see if the soldiers who had killed the men he was following had turned into his alley.

They had not, but as he returned his head forward he saw two men in blue. Their met eyes and the Captain ducked behind a dumpster, barely missing two bullets. The first man ran past the dumpster and the Captain stuck him with his sword. The second man who saw his friend die plunged his bayonet into the Captain's right trapezius muscle. He cried out in agony, but the wound, however painful, was not fatal. The bayonet was lodged in the muscle and as the attacker attempted to tug it out the Captain cut him down as well.

The Captain kept on running, not knowing where but only the destination; out of Sapri. Coming out of the alley way he toppled over another Guardsmen who was stumbling his way around. The battle must have been coming to a close, or the sides had come up close and entered hand-to-hand as the noise of gunshots was dying down and becoming less frequent.

"Guardate, Capitano! E' chiaro! E' chiaro!" The rifleman was suddenly bright as he and the Captain had reached an exit to the city which seemed to be unguarded. The two of them began running from their cover across the open expanse towards the gate. They were sprinting furiously and it seemed as if nothing could stop them.

Nothing but the body of another garrison unit falling from above onto the ground in front of them. The body before them had a gaping wound in his chest and blood trickling from his mouth. The two men looked up towards the direction the body fell too see another man in blue pointing at them.

Ten more riflemen lined the wall above them, rifles aimed down.



"Casualties, Crocetti?"

The fighting was over and the riflemen Luco Villo had taken command of only twelve hours ago were recovering from their first battle. The civilians brave enough to leave their residences and investigate the commotion had been put back at bay and ordered to return home. The riflemen had laid down their arms and were taking heavy drags on their cigarettes and pipes; the weaker of them were hunched over, grabbing their stomachs and unleashing their insides into a pile of vomit below them. Others were carrying bodies and the wounded or reporting to their officers. The only action the city still saw was fires that were slowly burning down to their foundations.

Luco, who was lighting a long, thin cigar he had drew from his case, was slightly shaken but taking in the events very well. Standing next to him was the Captain Nero Crocetti who was also smoking.

"We've lost thirty-two, sir. Forty or so are wounded," he blew out smoke from his nose as he took his kepi off of his head. Wiping gun residue from his sleeve he continued to Luco, "The Sapri garrison is destroyed. Seven hundred and ninety two have been killed, one hundred and ninety captured, and eighteen are unaccounted for."

"Wounded?"

"Wounded have been folded into the captured and killed category, Signore."

"Si, once your men have recovered, have them make a sweep of the city before we go on a search for the missing eighteen. Have all of the dead brought to the courtyard in front of the capitol. The thirty two we lost should be brought and laid out on the parade ground. Also, organize a group to collect supplies from the garrison's dead and from what's left of their barracks. See if the armory can still be salvaged. That is all, Capitano."

"Si. Right away, Signore."

"That is all," Luco said with a salute before turning about and jogging up into the Edificio di Campodoglio.

Nero drew on his cigarette as he gazed down at the Capitano Sword, fresh with blood, he had found on the battlefield.

Luco walked down the halls he had been in so many times before, this time as the absolute owner, towards the office of the Governess. Outside of the double doors to the room the Guardsmen permanently stationed at it were lying lifeless on the ground, two nationalists standing over them with their rifles across their chest. Luco nodded to the men, who nodded back, before swinging the doors open. Closing them behind him and locking the door as it latched. Luco turned to see the Governess Luciana Salvai sitting rigidly in her office chair in the center of the room, pale as a ghost.

Luco sauntered forward, chuckling to himself with a wild look in his eyes,"It's a shame it had to come to this truly," he paused glancing to his right at the bar top for serving guests in the office. Now walking at with an easy stroll he talked loudly, facing away from the Governess as he plucked a bottle of rum and a glass for himself. Pouring a four finger drinker, "greed got the best of you, Signora, and this is what it reaped."

"And what do you do from here, Luco? Kill me?" Luciana retorted defiantly, although fear was clearly present in her expressions. Taking a swig from his glass, Luco slammed the cup down on the table, the Governess jumping slightly, started from the bang. This made Luco laugh before he once again started walking menacingly towards her.

"The people must not have been thinking when they elected a liberal whore like you as their leader. But there is some good news from tonight at least! I've heard multiple reports, that I'm sure the media will spew about in the morning, that there were plenty of sightings of you and Padova escaping the city, just in time."

Luco unzipped his pants, taking two more long strides towards the Governess whom had tears beginning to trickle down her face, stuttering and trying to hold back the tears she begged him, "Whatever you are going to do, please don't. You've won, I will leave Sapri!"

His hand wiping away a tear from her cheek, lightly gliding down it to gently grip her chin with his pointer finger and thumb, "Oh shut your fucking trap," winding back with the same hand he smacked her clean out of her chair. He stood over Luciana, now on the floor sobbing, and said as he unbuckled his belt, "you might as well save your breath. No one can hear you. No is coming for you. You've already left here, remember? The best part of it all is, really, that no one will ever truly know what happened..."

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Postby Parthonopia » Wed Apr 25, 2018 8:09 pm

"Il Valzer di Fiori

Early Morning
Republican Guardsmen Camp
Tivoli, Marcomer Republic
28th of January, 2014


It always seemed to be that the worst of winter would not come until later in the season in Parthonopia; December and the start of January had been rather mild but as the year continued on the worse of the foul weather was yet to come. Encamped on the plains outside of Tivoli the remnants of the Marcomer Republican Guardsmen and its followers were getting a taste of the wintry mix ahead as the gentle precipitation from the night before was transitioning from a slushy rain to a light misting. The camp, rather resembling a refugee base than the small military force that it was, was awake and beginning its day; the sounds of pots and pans clanging reverberated through the field as breakfast was well on its way. The little shanty town of tents and leantos lacked a serious structure akin to one of the many military encampments scattered throughout Parthonopia. Sprawled out among the trampled high grass was over three thousand men and women alike, whole families even, that had determined to settle outdoors, several miles outside of the nearest major settlement, Tivoli. At the core of the horde was the seventeen hundred Republican Guardsmen that had taken up arms after the beacons were proverbially lit following the fall of Sapri. Word of the vicious attack against the regions bastion of liberty had spread like wildfire across the rest of the province. Within three days of the coup the various separate outposts of Guardsmen abandoned their positions and began to consolidate at first within the city itself.

To call Tivoli a city is a bit of a stretch, nestled in a large cove on the coast southeast of Sapri the city is comprised of three smaller villages, roughly populated by thirty thousand each. The flatland and rather sparse forests of the region allow it so that one could see either village if they were to be atop the tallest building within each. The namesake village is the home of the waterfront and the fishing fleet that provides much of the fresh produce for the people that inhabit there. North of the harbor village along the main road towards the coast sits the financial and capital district of Tivoli, to its west the third village and the corner of its industry, several factories and warehouses being the chief infrastructure there as well as the primary employer of the people living there. Between these three villages were fields of crops and livestock farms; although not overly bountiful to the point for trade the agricultural network that connected the three villages that formed Tivoli produced enough to sustain the population and sale in the smaller markets in neighboring villages and towns.

The mass of Guardsmen and the growing camp following of their wives, children, and fellow 'dissidents' was upon first arrival greeted with open arms and openly quartered in government buildings and the homes of those especially loyal to the cause. Their welcome was quickly exhausted however as the numbers grew and the demand for food and shelter expanded with them. Times were becoming tougher, food more scarce and supplies less readily available. As the nights grew colder and home heating oil in a higher demand, no suppliers left in the entire province with any to sell, the people began to get restless as more and more commodities began to lack.

The market stalls throughout the city slowly diminished in their variety and quantity, lines would form now outside the food shops as people waited to get what meager selection remained. The presence of the seemingly insatiably hungry army, better described as a rabble of leaderless militia, only heightened the issue. As days passed, news of the fate of the Governess Salvai still unheard of, the inaction of the amassed crowd was to the displeasure of the local populace.

In a strategic move the de facto leader of the Republican Guard, Captain Agostino Marchetti opted to withdraw the troops from Tivoli and settled where they currently found themselves. Agostino was officially recognized as the rank of Captain in the Guardsmen force prior to the Sapri Coup, however was the commanding officer of a much smaller contingent that was garrisoned near the County of Galivolare border. The Commander of the Republican Guardsmen, as well as most of the higher ranking officials of the defense force, had fallen during the raid perpetrated by the nationalist militia force leaving the mob that remained leaderless at first. Gathered in a farmhouse amidst the encampment were the men and women that served as the decision makers of the force. They were the Captains of the outposts that had marched their forces there, several Senators that had been able to escape Sapri, as well as fiercely republican local leaders from several townships. All of them staunchly rejected Luco Villo's rule by force and his bloody uprising.

Captain Marchetti had been reluctantly chosen to be the new commander of the military division of the camp after the first convening of the dissidents in the farmhouse. He had been extremely vocal about the capabilities of the Guardsmen and what they should be doing. His passion was not overlooked and he was given command over the forces, being the same rank as any of the other present highest ranking officers it was not an outrageous decision. Agostino strongly urged the aptly dubbed Marcomer Emergency Council that they should march the force they had right up to Sapri to oust Villo and reestablish the Senate. The Council was hesitant to do so, fearing a defeat and more bloodshed but Marchetti was ardent on the subject. His vehement opinion on the matter was in fact personal in nature. Among the over one hundred Senators, whose fate is still unknown, that did not escape Sapri following the coup was his younger sister Felicita, the fiery progressive representative of one of the many Marcomer districts.

"The time to attack is now! We mustn't wait any longer else there will be no Senate left to re administer when we do take down Villo," Marchetti objected as he had done what seemed to him over a thousand times already.

He was met with the same excuses and averse replies that he had come to practically memorize. The force was not large enough, not strong enough, not ready. Waiting for Winst to take action was the best plan. Villo was so ignorant he would probably get himself killed without their help any way. Agostino was tired of it all.

"What more of a sign that the time has come than being ejected from Tivoli? Those people think we should have already conquered the capital back!"

A buzz and mumbled responses of both agreement and disagreement and shaking heads rippled across the room briefly. A taller man, leaned against a wall in a corner of the room cleared his throat. He was a factory owner, of one of the several in Tivoli, who had joined the Guardsmen camp after closing his factory due to a lack of work. Upon doing so he had propositioned to his workers to pay them to join him in fighting for the republic, over three quarters of them doing so and bolstering the force by over two hundred men.

"I agree with the Captain Marchetti! Enough is enough, the Wintonians won't fight this fight for us, they would rather wait and starve us all out. No one will step up to punish Villo but us and I cannot wait any more."

"I don't know about you but I have never, nor have my troops, seen combat. What makes you think those boys and old men out there are so ready to kill?" Interjected the Captain Zeno Panzarino. Zeno was among the Council members who opposed an immediate attack, conflicted on the issue as while remaining loyal to the Republic he was a proponent of unification. It was also a fear of retaliation from the Parthonopian Legion, which he knew had troops stationed in Eolie where his brother was a captain of the guard, that drove his reasoning.

Before the discussion, or debate, got too heated the executive leader of the council, Sergio Parrina a former close confidant of the deceased Senator Padova and a Senator himself, slammed the table with his fist twice and spoke up, "It is true, enough time has passed and clearly inaction will get us nowhere. But is attacking this republic's capital truly our best option? That I am not sure off and we will discuss further later. I do believe we should prepare to do so and be ready to do it within the next several days. We will vote, of course, to determine whether or not that is what should happ-"

"Then let us hold this vote now! The decision made and the men will be battle ready by tomorrow," Marchetti chimed, cutting Parrina off mid sentence.

"NO," Parrina said aggressively, "we will vote in two days, give all of us some time to think about it and have the opportunity to voice our thoughts and concerns on it here. In the meantime perhaps we should make our intentions clear and see what that may do for us, perhaps Villo will back down from a fight that he didn't sneak into. Go ahead and have breakfast we will meet again after lunch, prepare whatever you need to for discussing this then."

Everyone in the room moved almost simultaneously and groggily shuffled out of the building, Marchetti just shaking his head and rolling his eyes.

*****


Another day another incendiary diplomatic communique condemning whatever the last action of the Commonwealths government was. Friuli found himself en route to his provisional chamber in Carrara, his current base of operations, to speak with Prince Carlo, however this time he found himself tentatively approaching the door to the office study he called home for the past month. He entered the room and tossed his jacket on the bed and unbuttoned his sleeves and collar before sitting down and taking deep breath. He stared at the phone on the desk as he mustered the courage to dial Prince Carlo. Having spoken to him briefly on his cell phone earlier, Carlo seemed far from ecstatic to converse with Friuli and a strong sense of urgency could be heard in his tone.

He sat hunched over with the phone pressed to his ear as it rang for a moment before it was picked up, ""Voestra Maestra! You have called, sir."

"Friuli." Carlo muttered over the line.

It's a pleasure to speak with you, buon pomeriggio."

"Enough of the niceties!" Carlo snapped, he was not in the mood for formalities and small talk, "Ignazio I am not pleased. Why is it any time some one of any importance and relevance opens their mouth about you it is to condemn you? Why do so many nobles not have a single kind word to describe you with? Is it because you are a poor leader? Noooo, of course it can't be, after all I handpicked you to do this! But how can you be fighting to promote the well being of, and future for, Parthonopia when nothing you may do is acceptable by those who look on?"

"Do you question my integrity sir?" Friuli lashed back, although ensuring to check himself and stay in line.

"What I question is how do we change the course of destruction you've beset us upon? Our goals were unachievable from the start and now as more forces join our enemies by the day it is a fool's dream! What I question is whether or not you truly are the man that can turn this around from the dark outcome that seems impending." Carlo seemed to growl that last sentence at Friuli who blinked nervously to himself before replying. He was completely blindsided by this rage and unhappiness of Carlo's towards him; having been in Ancona less two weeks prior the Prince's demeanor towards Friuli and his course of action had drastically changed.

"Carlo I drink, breathe, and bleed Parthonopia! My loyalty, to the death, is to this nation and to its glory. I love Parthonopia and I am fully devoted to this cause and these people. My loyalty to this nation is undeniable-"

"And then what of your loyalty to me?!" Carlo roared. Friuli could hear him standing up from his desk, his chair crashing to the floor.

"I have just said it to you! You are Parthonopia, Vostra Maesta. My loyalty for this nation is to you, what I do for this cause is for you. If I die for Parthonopia I die for you, my lord. I recognize your feelings here, the future is dim if we continue down this path. What we are condemned for is largely not of my direct action and is in large part due to Wintonian. The dissent in Irpino and Marcomer does drastically hurt our cause but the fight is nowhere near lost. There are moves we can take to counter the swing of the scale." Friuli had remained seated and used every ounce of self control he possessed to speak calmly and plainly without raising his voice or matching Carlo's intensity.

"Did I sense a hint of dissent in your tone, boy? I determine what the moves are and your move, Field Marshal, is to deal with Villo! Give Parrina Sapri and get Marcomer on our side, get into contact with your pal Di Pietro and move those troops from Eolie to Sapri. Crush Villo and liberate the city, save some face for the cause before it is entirely tarnished. Get these orders out immediately and instruct Di Pietro to request any further ones from Marshal Ongaro."

Friuli's jaw dropped and it took all the energy he had not to slam the phone on the desk repeatedly and instead to stutter out, "What does that mean? I am being relieved of my post?"

"No. I need you in the capital where I can keep an eye on you, there are many more generals and marshals now to deal with the issues in the field. Stay put where you are for now, I will be in contact."

Carlo hung up the phone and a dial tone buzzed in Friuli's ear. He slammed the phone on the receiver and stared blankly ahead.
Last edited by Parthonopia on Wed Apr 25, 2018 8:32 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Postby Parthonopia » Wed Apr 25, 2018 11:18 pm

"Pavane per la Principessa Morta"

Late Evening
Castello d'Cormor, Ancona
3rd of June, 2013


Friuli was briskly walking down the corridor his chamber was off of until he was shortly stopped by Eliza as he attempted to pass her. She grabbed his left arm when he tried to brush past and pulled him towards her. Placing her right hand on his shoulder as he faced her, a tiny tear rolling down her cheek, she said to him furiously, "Ignazio! Why do you do this?"

Furrowing his brows as he looked down at her, "What? Do what, Eliza?"

"Keep running away from me like I am cursed or something," she spat at him, "you come and go for months at a time, give me all the attention in the world when you want to and then ignore me as if I didn't exist in the first place?"

Eliza still had her grips on him until then when he ripped away from her and took several steps backwards, "I don't know what you want from me, but this cannot keep happening."

"So what?" She scoffed, "I can't even come and congratulate you for today?"

Friuli closed his eyes and shook his head back and forth vigorously before placing his hands on the sides of his head and grabbing at it as if there was hair there to pull, "No! Because that is not what you came here for, you came to play with my head! Like you always do, to mess with my mind and guilt me," Eliza, red in the face, moved towards Friuli saying no on repeat as he backed himself up to the wall as he continued to rant, "Dannazione woman! You act as if I forced you to marry him, as if I was the one who walked away. I have accepted it! I have accepted my fate, and god dammit that fate may not be to spend my life with you but it is, and always has been, to serve you. Every move I make, every thing I do to make Carlo a king is for you, and for ou-"

Eliza slapped Friuli across the face firmly, so much so he stumbled and were it not for the wall he very likely would have completely lost his balance. As he leaned against the wall trying to regain his footing she grabbed his shirt by his chest with one hand and leaned into him, wagging her finger on her other hand in his face, "Now you listen here, dammit! Watch what you say in the open and don't you ever try to guilt me again. I know I'm locked in my decisions but do you think I had a choice? I know what my fate is too but does that mean I cannot smile when I see you? That I cannot light up when you are around or enjoy my conversations with you?"

She still held onto his shirt tightly, having tugged at him hard enough to untuck it, but had lowered the hand pointing in his face. Friuli, with a flustered look and a red hand print on his cheek, gave a deep sigh and stared at Eliza. She relaxed slightly, refraining from the distressed shaking she had been doing uncontrollably. When she finally let go she placed both hands on his shoulders and gripped them as she made laser eye contact with Friuli. He rolled his eyes and relaxed himself a little, as much as her grip allowed, and said, "I received some bad news today and on top of that I need to get back out to Lepanto by the end of the week."

Eliza frowned, "I'm sorry to hear that."

"I think your brother is going to attack my forces there..."

Eliza laughed in return, "Eligio?" she said still giggling, "what would he have to gain from that anyways? I'm sure it will all blow over. But you boys go out and play war, why don't you. You and Eligio always did have that feud, or whatever it was, between you."

Ignazio smiled, she still had her hands on his shoulders. He placed his right hand on her hip and his left on her shoulder. Her knees buckled momentarily before he spoke, "You are a truly brilliant and impassioned woman, Eliza, more than you would be given credit for. Carlo is a truly lucky man to have you by his side."

He took his right hand and brushed the back of his fingers across her cheek, placing her hair behind her ear unveiling her face which was glowing and bright red. Eliza grasped her wrist behind Friuli's neck and pulled him in close to her, he didn't pull away as she leaned in and kissed him. When she didn't seem to quit after a few pecks he pushed her back gently and looked her dead in the face, his bright red, and said "We cannot." before spinning around and briskly walking away. She did not let him get far though as she rushed up from behind him and whipped him around, jumping into his arms. This time Friuli could not bring himself to pull away from her and he held her tightly as they locked lips. He stumbled forward with her legs wrapped around his waist and pulled her off of him and placed her feet on the ground. She gave an angered look and was ready to pounce again but without a word Friuli grabbed her by the wrist and his keys out of his pocket and rushed them both over to his door. He quickly unlocked it and they slid in, swiftly closing the door behind them.

Vincenzo Fiorino remained hidden, tucked in the doorway of a small conference room with his jaw almost to the floor. He had gotten to his quarters less than forty-five minutes prior to be startled by the sight of several missed calls from Friuli. He frantically made his way to the Field Marshal's when he stopped short of what he had just witnessed. He was blinking endlessly, unsure if what he had just seen was true of if he had just simply ignored the missed calls and collapsed on his bed. Suddenly his feet were warm and wet and he realized that one of the two paper cups of coffee he had been intensely gripping the whole time had dropped and spilled all over. He quickly deduced he was not sleeping and had indeed just witnessed one of the largest scandals that could possibly unfold.

He bent over and scrambled to pick up the cup and lid and ran down the hallway the way he came, tossing both cups in the first garbage he passed.

*****


Vincenzo spat on the concrete in front of the fountain he was sitting on. His mouth was filling with saliva as he dragged on his cigarette. He spat again, this time into the fountain, and coughed as he exhaled. He only recently picked up the habit of smoking and every time he did have one the same thing would happen. If he let the saliva build up he only began to feel nauseous as it sat in there thus the constant spitting. He felt obligated, somehow, to start with the tobacco as almost every officer he had ever met seemed to be an enthusiast. Even his brother was a smoker these days. He had been waiting outside for quite some time but was enjoying the warm breeze of the bright summers night. Apparently so was most of Ancona as the night life was vibrant that night, people out on the town enjoying the beautiful weather and friends. Even in the small courtyard of the fountain Vincenzo had posted himself there were three other people around, a couple getting a little too intimate on a park bench and a man talking very loudly on his cell phone to what was assuredly his wife.

Vincenzo dropped his cigarette butt to the ground pressed his foot to it and twisted, snuffing it out. He looked up to, long last, the arrival of the man he had been waiting for. The man was in a Legionnaire's uniform and of an average height and build with really no major distinguishing features to him. The man waved and Vincenzo stood up and walked over to him, "Bruno, its good to finally see you."

The man looked around and began to take turns glancing over at the man on the phone and staring at Vincenzo, "We probably shouldn't speak here."

Vincenzo nodded, "You're right, let's walk," the two of them left the courtyard and continued walking down a path in the park tucked between the outskirts of the Castello and the start of the rows upon rows of housing stacked on top of itself. As the path got darker there were less civilians until finally there was no one else around besides Bruno and him. They stopped walking and turned to each other, Vincenzo jumping down Bruno's throat, "Why haven't you been able to meet me in person for over a month? I keep leaving you information but when is this going to happen?"

Bruno waved both hands in front of him, "The attack is happening soon, you will know when."

Vincenzo threw both hands up in the air and turned around, "You've said that every time I've seen you for the past four months. Why can't I talk to you on the phone anyway, or my family for that matter?"

Bruno raised an eyebrow and took a moment before he assured him, "You know why, I've said it how many times? They can tracks those things and we cannot afford anyone catching on."

Vincenzo nodded reluctantly and pulled a cigarette from his pack. He lit it and questioned Bruno with it hanging from his mouth, "What about this supporting Duke? Is he ready to strike as well?"

"I can't say but I can say it will be happening soon and you will know when." Bruno stared at the ember of Vincenzo's cigarette which stood out like a firefly in the dark. Vincenzo took a drag and spat on the dirt path, looking up to the stars trying to blink away the irritation in his eyes from the smoke. He teared up a little and opened them wide and looked down to the ground. He rubbed his eyes and wiped them and then looked at Bruno with them bloodshot, "You won't believe what I saw today."

"What?" Bruno said seemingly uninterested. Vincenzo explained to him what he had just seen and Bruno's eyes lit up with each detail. At the end he got in close and with a hand out pointing at Vincenzo he said almost frantically, "Did anyone see you? Did you tell anyone else this?"

"No, no!" Vincenzo implored, "You're the first one I've told."

"Good," Bruno said shortly, "keep it that way. Our benefactor will love this but we can't let this opportunity go to waste. So you cannot ruin this by telling a single other soul, no matter how long you have to keep quiet."

Vincenzo placed his right hand across his chest and over his heart and said sternly, "I swear on my life your ears are the only ones to ever hear me say that."

Bruno nodded, "Good, now you mind if I bum a smoke?" He said gesturing to Vincenzo's lit one. Vincenzo nodded and pulled his pack from his inside jacket pocket and popped up the lid, presenting it to Bruno. He looked at the pack and noticed it was mostly full and that one cigarette in the middle of the pack was flipped upside down so that it was the only one with the butt at the bottom of the pack. Bruno plucked that cigarette from out of the case and borrowed Vincenzo's lighter before laughing and saying almost mockingly, "So you believe in luck, do you? Don't you know, there is no such thing."

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Postby Parthonopia » Thu Apr 26, 2018 2:56 pm

"I bring misfortune to all who care for me!
It was then, in my grief,
that love came to me.
A voice full of harmony says,
"Keep on living, I am life itself!
Your heaven is in my eyes!
You are not alone.
I collect all your tears
I walk with you and support you!
Smile and hope! I am Love!
Are you surrounded by blood and mire?
I am Divine! I am oblivion!
I am the God who saves the World
I descend from Heaven and make this Earth
A heaven! Ah!
I am love, love, love."
And the angel approaches with a kiss,
and he kisses death –
"

-Section of lyrics of the aria from act 3 of the 1896 opera Andrea Chénier by Umberto Giordano

"La Momma Morta"

Late Evening
Castello d'Cormor, Ancona
28th of January, 2014

"Get these orders out immediately and instruct Di Pietro to request any further ones from Marshal Ongaro." Carlo's knuckles were white as he leaned over his desk, clenching the phone. He had the phone cord wrapped tightly around his hand, the restriction paling his skin whereas his face was bright red with frustration. He was visibly irritated to the point that one could proverbially see steam coming out of his ears. "No. I need you in the capital where I can keep an eye on you, there are many more generals and marshals now to deal with the issues in the field. Stay put where you are for now, I will be in contact."

He pressed the receiver with his fingers and retained his grip on the phone for a moment, immensely trying to regain his composure. He looked across the table to his wife, the mother of four of his children, and his lip quivered with rage at the brief sight of her. He turned his head away, wanting desperately to avoid letting his emotions take the reigns of any discussion he was about to have.

"Carlo," Eliza had mustered the courage to speak and intervened, "perhaps you should cut Ignazio some slack, the reactionary nature of these wild cards is out of his control."

Carlo snapped his attention to her and jostled straight back upright as he had been slowly positioning to sit back in the chair prior to her comment, "Dannazione, volpe! Hold your tongue, now! I hear enough shit out of your mouth!" His attempt at self control only lasted as long her silence. He had summoned her to his office under pretenses that it was urgent. She had passed off her youngest child, Victoria, to a nanny to finish getting her ready for bed and had rushed down to meet with her husband. Since then she had been sitting silently amidst the almost tangible tension, watching as Carlo had paced around his desk, berating the Field Marshal Friuli over the phone.

She sat forward in her chair, her mouth wide open, and her face becoming flush with anger. "What is that supposed to mean?" She growled at him and continued in a sweeter tone, "What has gotten into you, my love? Even yesterday you were not like this..." Carlo, with a bewildered look about him, laughed from his belly in a manner that frightened Eliza. She lifted her legs onto her chair and placed her knees to her chest. She looked up at Carlo's face, bright red with veins bulging; his pupils were dark, wide voids that had expanded to almost the size of his eyes. "Ha! My love?" he forced a laugh and then speedily uttered, "if you ever meant that once.."

"What?" Eliza was astonished.

"You make me repeat myself?" Carlo roared at her as she flinched.

"I do not know who you are right now, Carlo, or what this is all about, just please.."

"And I never knew who you really were," Carlo shouted at the top of his lungs as he hurled the lamp on the corner of his desk at her. She managed to dodge a direct impact and it shattered on the hardwood floor behind her. A corner of the base of the lamp did catch her slightly in the temple and a trickle of blood ran down the right side of her face. She placed a hand to her head as she jumped from the seat, knocking it over in the process, and placing herself across from Carlo with the long wooden desk between them. She pulled her hand from the wound for a moment to look down and see blood, although she had already been able to feel the warm liquid dripping down her cheek and neck. "What the fuck are you doing?" She screamed, "Just stop and talk to me!"

A fire was burning in Carlo's eyes as his toes hit the foot of the desk and he leaned forward pointing at his wife. He snarled at her, foaming at the mouth "Did you do it? Did you sleep with Friuli!"

Eliza was trembling and as pale as a ghost, her tears and seething anger replaced with a look of exasperation. "What do you mean?" She asked timidly. She instantly regretted it, Carlo snapping again, winding backwards and stopping short of hopping over the desk. "You know goddamn well what I mean! Tell me the truth! I was told this morning by a reliable source. Did you do it?"

Eliza shook her head back and forth and continued crying, snot bubbling out of her nose as she sobbed. "No, my Prince! I would never!" She said between tears and with a stomp of her foot, "I would never do such a thing. I love you, Carlo. I-I would.... whomever told you anything..."

"That they are a liar? The only person left I trust in the world? That they made this all up for what? A joke?" Carlo rubbed his eyes and pinched the bridge of his nose. He breathed in deeply and unclenched his fist and shook out his hand as he stood there. Looking down at his desk where his lamp used to sit he said much calmer and more collected, "I already know the truth, Eliza. I need to hear it from you to confirm. I need to know. I don't want to make the wrong decision. Please, after all these years, just be honest with me."

Eliza was still whimpering but had been able to hold back her tears momentarily. Her husband was hunched over his desk across from her, looking defeated, unable to look her in the eyes. She stood as still as she could, with the exception of her nervous shaking starting at her feet, and gulped as she stared intensely at him. He had placed a hand on the corner of the desk and was leaning his weight on it while the other hand was still pinching at the corner of his eyes. He looked behind himself as he leaned over and Eliza could hear him trying desperately to hide his crying.

"Yes. I did."

Instantly they were both silent, no whimpering, no crying, not a word. Carlo rose up to his full height slowly, standing with his best posture, and locked bloodshot eyes with Eliza. She instinctively gasped and stumbled two steps backwards. Without warning Carlo lunged forward, viciously screaming, "Puttana sporca! Fica infelice!" before it devolved into rabid, foaming unintelligible slurs. The contents of his desk exploded off the sides as he bounded over it and tackled Eliza to the ground with his hands wrapped around her throat. She was screaming and gagging, flailing frantically as Carlo used his grip to jerk her up and down, pounding the back of her head on the floor. After the third shake she was spitting up blood she was swallowing from her nose, tears mixing with the mess on her face. She kept rocking back and forth trying to escape, to do something. With her free arm she clawed at Carlo's face, managing to scratch him just below his eye and down his cheek, drawing blood.

He wound back his right arm and punched Eliza in the nose, her head hitting the ground after. She was able to maneuver her leg when he shifted positions and she kicked him with all her might in the crotch. It only maddened Carlo who proceeded to punch her again, her front teeth knocked out with the impact. She kicked him again, this time with better accuracy, and he curled over in pain, letting go of her throat. She sat up gagging and leaned over holding her stomach to throw up a pile of blood and a couple of teeth. She fumbled to stand up as Carlo did the same, she turned her back to him and rummaged through the scattered contents of his desk for a weapon. Her vision was blurred with tears and blood, her left eye beginning to swell. She crashed face first to the floor when Carlo kicked her in the back, still savagely screaming guttural noises. Eliza was sobbing uncontrollably and pushing her hands around the piles of papers on the floor in front of her until she grabbed a hold of a decorative, ivory handled letter opener.

She rolled over as Carlo came down on top of her. Waving her arms around as he tried to grab her wrists to hold her down, his knees on her stomach. Before he could however, Eliza stabbed Carlo in the hand as he reached for hers. She stabbed him again in his bicep and he screamed out in pain before back handing her and grabbing her by the throat again. Eliza still barely had a hand on the knife and tried desperately to pull it from his arm, only for the handle to break from the blade. He winced and let out a bloodcurdling scream but Eliza's swings were less forceful with each one. She was still fighting with every breath and Carlo struggled to maintain a grip on her. He looked around himself quickly as she shouted death threats at him through the blood and spit when he quickly laid eyes on the now cracked, hand carved stone bust of the Emperor Salius.

Carlo dove for the statue, having to get off of his wife to do so and she frantically rolled over and crawled towards the back side of the desk. He ran over to her, crawling on her hands an knees reaching for the drawer handle, and grabbed her by the hair on the back of her head and slammed her face into the desk. She dropped to her stomach, coughing and weeping. Carlo whipped her over onto to her back by her hair, most of her fight now gone, and knelt over her. He raised the bust up over his head and slammed it down onto Eliza's with all of his might. Blood speckled the floor for feet in every direction. He held the bust in his hand, the receding hairline of Emperor Salius covered in blood. He could still feel her chest moving beneath him, her heart straining to beat and her mouth moving to a gargled exhale.

He bashed the replica face of the Antiquity leader into her skull again, even harder then the first time. Then he did so again and two more times before a large fraction of Salius's skull broke off on the floor. Carlo dropped what was left of it next to Eliza's motionless body, a pool of blood forming around her. Carlo was still knelt over her, staring at what was left for an unknown amount of time. What felt like hours later, he gained the strength to stand and walked over to the window onlooking the city and closed the curtains. He bent over and picked up the phone, plugged it back in and inspected it for damage. He dialed a sequence of numbers with his blood soaked hands and tapped his foot as he waited for a response.

"Yes. I need to speak with Bart immediately." Carlo rolled his eyes, "No. I am the Prince of Ancona! Get him ready... Tell him I need him in Ancona immediately... No. Just him. Now." He said everything frankly to the man on the other line.

"Have him call me immediately. I need him in my office by morning." He placed the phone on the receiver and took a deep breath. He wiped some of the blood on his hands off on his pants and walked around to the front of his desk, stepping over Eliza. He stood in front of the knocked over chair she had been sitting in before everything had escalated so quickly. Grunting as he bent over and sat the chair back up, he sat down and put pressure on the wound in his arm. He ripped the lower half of his sleeve off and wrapped it around his bicep, above where the blade of the letter opener was still lodged, tying it tightly.

Carlo sat there for a while, deep in thought. Not after long, however, he stood up from the seat and walked to his desk drawer where he kept his humidor. He opened it and retrieved the most expensive cigar he had in his stash, one he had been saving for a special occasion. Specifically he had always envisioned himself smoking that cigar after his coronation as the King of Parthonopia, the leader of a new Commonwealth. He lit it with a match and dropped the match to the floor, disregarding the ash tray that could have been any where after the chaos.

Turning around, Carlo opened back up the curtains of his window and looked down at his city as he drew on his cigar. He stood and watched, his body in shock and seemingly his mind as well. The full reality of the pain had yet to set in and in the meantime, all Carlo could feel was an overwhelming sense of release and almost euphoria. He placed his hand against the glass pane and exhaled. Speaking to no but himself, Carlo peered out at the horizon, his eyes glossy and watery, and announced,

"È finito."


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