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  1. #1
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    No, it's probably not Chicago...



    To new readers:

    I know it might seem intimidating to begin reading an AAR already spanning several pages (reaching the seventh as I write these lines). But I want to insist on this: even if you have any comment to make about an old post, do not hesitate to do so! Just mention the post number and I would happily answer even if that's old work for me. All the more since a few details I've placed here and there have not been noticed by my wonderful "old" readers...

    Please, also note that my English writing skills have been improved by this work. That's why the first chapters (particularly the first one) may not be very representative of the whole thing.

    In any case, and even if you decide to remain a silent reader: WELCOME ONBOARD!



    The three following sections might contain spoilers, but I've thought they would come in handy.


    ========== Table of Contents ==========

    1a : Serbia, February 1419 AD
    2a : Byzantium : March 1419 AD
    3a : North Lake Shore Drive, Tuesday
    4a : Central Judiciary Administration Tower, later on Tuesday
    4b : LaSalle police station, still later the same day
    5a : Serbia, April 1419 AD
    6a : Cozy Cat Club, Wednesday in the evening
    6b : Cozy Cat Club, continued
    6c : Cozy Cat Club, continued: newspaper
    6d : Cozy Cat Club, continued
    7a : Byzantium : July 1419 AD
    7b : Byzantium : two weeks later
    8a : Serbia : October 1419
    8b : Serbia : October 1419, continued
    8c : Serbia : October 1419, continued
    8d : Serbia : October 1419, continued
    8e : Serbia : October 1419, continued
    9a : Heebom Tower, later on Wednesday
    9b : Heebom Tower (continued)
    9c : Hitchgins' apartment : later the same night
    9d : 357, North Lake Shore Drive, later the same night
    9e : LaSalle Police Station, Thursday in the morning
    10a : Byzantium : April 1420
    10b : Byzantium : April 1420, continued
    11a : Good Hope Hospital, Thursday, late afternoon
    11b : In front of Good Hope Hospital, Thursday at dusk
    11c : Mario and Luigi's tagliatelle, Thursday at dusk (continued)
    11d : Newspaper
    12a : Udbina : June 1420 AD
    12b : Udbina : June 1420 AD (Continued)
    13a : A la Tante joyeuse, Friday, soon in the morning.
    13b : A la Tante joyeuse: Friday, soon in the morning (Continued).
    14a : Alexandria: September, 1420
    14b : Alexandria: September, 1420 (continued)
    14c : Alexandria: September, 1420 (continued)
    14d : Alexandria: September, 1420 (continued)
    14e : Alexandria: September, 1420 (continued)
    15 : Hitchgins' place, Friday in the morning
    15b : French Connection's headquarter, Sunday in the morning
    16a : Byzantium: May, 1420 AD
    16b : Byzantium: October, 1420 AD
    16c : Byzantium: October, 1420 AD (continued)
    16d : Byzantium: January 16th, 1421 AD
    17a : LaSalle Police Station, Monday in the morning
    17b : LaSalle Police Station, Monday in the middle of the afternoon
    18 : Crete, March 1421 AD
    19 : In front of LaSalle police station: Tuesday, early in the morning
    20 : Venice, April 1421 AD
    21 : Southern docks, Wednesday in the morning
    21b : Southern docks, Wednesday morning (continued)
    21c : Central Judiciary Administration Tower (Wednesday morning)
    22a : Constantinople, May, 1422 AD
    22b : Constantinople, May, 1422 AD (continued)
    23 : Southern docks, Wednesday morning (continued from #21)
    23b : Southern docks, Wednesday morning (continued)
    24 : Venice, January 1423
    25 : Matt is in trouble
    25b : Matt's apartment - Thursday, early in the morning
    26: Constantinople, November 1423


    ...


    ====== EU2 timeline characters ======

    Lord Gimnec: An old Serbian baron with a big scar. Mentioned in #1, #5, #8b, #8c, #8d, #8e.
    Piotr: Lord Gimnec's son. Mentioned in #1, #5, #8e.
    Lena: Lord Gimnec's servant. Mentioned in #1, #5, #8e.
    Father Gorny: Orthodox Priest of the village officially ruled by Lord Gimnec. Mentioned in #1, #5, #8a, #8b, #8c, #8d, #8e.
    Milan: A young Serbian peasant from Lord Gimnec's village. Mentionned in: #8a
    Biljana: Father Gorny's wife. Mentioned in #1, #8a
    Coskun: a kapikulu officer who has commanded Lord Gimnec's during the 1390's. Mentioned in: #8c, #8d, #8e.
    Arzu: Coscun's daughter, and Piotr's mother. Mentioned in: #8c, #8d, #8e.

    Alexios: a successful Byzantine merchant with a knack for profiting from various situations. Mentioned in : #2, #7a, #7b, #16c, #18, #20, #22a, #22b, #24, #26
    Maro: Alexios' young, talented and ambitious associate. Mentioned in : #2, #7a, #7b, #18, #20a, #22b, #24
    Eustathius: Alexios' son. Mentioned in : #7b, #20, #24
    Ilhami: a turkish woman who owns a bakery in an Ottoman port and deals in various unofficial trades. She has unclear relations with Maro. Mentioned in : #2, #22b, #26
    Verina Ospinas: the naughty daughter of the Patriarch of Constantinople. Mentioned in : #2, #16b, #16c, #22a, #22b, #26
    Paulos: A courtier of Constantinople. He's an incompetant go getter. Alexios and him hate each other. Mentioned in : #16b, #16c, #18, #22b, #26

    Bjorn: a rather brutal varangian guard. Mentioned in #10a, #10b, #12a, #12b, #14a, #14b, #14c, #14d, #14e
    Tzourillas: a bogomyl preacher. Mentioned in #10a, #12a, #12b, #14a, #14b, #14c, #14d, #14e

    ...


    ======= Probably not Chicago characters =======

    Sergeant Hitchgins: A crooked but rather perceptive police officer with a personal accent. Mentioned in : #3 , #4a, #4b , #9c, #9d, #9e, #11a, #11b, #11c, #13a, #13b, #15, #17a, #17b, #19, #21a, #21b, #23, #23b, #25, #25b

    Agent Matt Bredin: A young cop who has the infortune of being Hitchgin's assistant... Mentioned in : #3 , #4a, #4b, #9d, #9e, #11a, #11c, #17a, #17b, #19, #21a, #21b, #23, #23b, #25, #25b

    Emily: Matt's girlfriend. Mentionned in: #9d, #25b

    Kallistos: a Greek mobster who's been powerful but is now in trouble. Mentioned in : #3, #4a, #4b, #6a, #6b, #6d, #9d, #9e, #11c, #21c

    Judge Peter: He's a judge called Peter. Accrding to Stuyvesant, he could be described as "a tall, dark figure, menacing and just a little (okay, a lot) insane. Don't know about the insanity yet, but Judge Peter sure is a menacing presence." Since he's a great read-only member, I trust his judgment Mentioned in: #3 , #4a, #4b, #6a, #6b, #6c, #6d, #9a, #9b, #9d, #9e , #11b , #11c, #11d, #17a, #19, #21c, #23b

    Betty: Judge Peter's secretary. Rather cute but with a steel temper. Mentioned in #4a, #21c.

    Michaels: The police superintendant, a friend of Judge Peter. He's a big loaf of red meat that would dwarf the governor of California. Mentioned in: #4a , #11c

    Mary: She's the owner of the Cozy Cat Club. She's an independant woman, even though she has or had close links with both Kallistos and Peter. Mentioned in: #6a, #6d, #11d

    Mayor Pill: The mayor... Nicknamed "Big Pill". Mentioned in #6c, #11d

    Dr Barachiel: Director of the Miskatonic Sanatorium, specialist of mental disorders induced by drugs consumption. Mentioned in #6c, #11d, #17b

    Mr Voltshead: The spokesman of the Zero Tolerence Movement and Vice President of the Clean Streets Clean Hands Party. He's an ambitious populist politician. Doesn't like Judge Peter. Mentioned in #6c, #6d, #9b , #11c, #11d

    T. A. Dass is the president of the Clean Street Clean Hands Party. He's a moderate for his party and tries to keep is Vice-President in hand. Mentioned in #6c, #9b , #11c, #11d

    Johan Usse: an assassinated journalist. He has officially been a victim of his own involvment with crimals, but Voltshead has publically accused Judge Peter of being behind this murder. Mentioned in #6c, #11d

    Commander Pinelvy: is in charge of LaSalle Police Station and is thus Hitchgins' boss (they hate each other). Mentioned in #4b, #9a, #9b, #9c, #9d, #9e, #11c, #11d, #17a, #17b

    Judge Cariotte: A judge of lesser ranck than Peter. He's politically opposed to him and considered as a kind of balance of power in Central Judiciary Administration. Of course, he may not feel at ease when risking direct confrontation... Appears in: #9b, #11d

    Charles: A rather bon-vivant French-born bartender. Appears in: #13a, #13b

    ...

    < O >


    ========== Warnings ==========


    Aaaahhh. Let’s begin with a big list of warnings. Feel free to skip them (or come back to them later), but do not come later saying you’ve not been warned. You’ve been warned. So here it is :

    1. This is my first attempt at an AAR or anything similar. Never done such things before, not even in my native language, even if I happen to have a big project in french (this kind of big projects that remain that forever, if you see what I mean, but nothing to do with Paradox or video games, so better leave it out of here). Therefore, I would be over optimistic if I promised anything regarding the quality, quantity or frequency of updates. You’ve been warned.

    2. My skills in english are quite limited (check my sig), which will obviously reduce my possibilities literary speaking, and make it looong to write updates. You’ve been warned.

    3. This AAR is actually based on a game, in case anyone happens to wonder at some point (AGC-EEP 1.5, IIRC, on normal/normal)

    4. I don’t plan to shock anyone here, but knowing how sensitive some religious freaks could be, I’d rather recommend not to read this if religion is the most sacred thing in the world for you and you’re the type of launching a fatwa / crusade or whatever for a few words or drawings. Hey, I wanna keep my head, although I ain't always happy with what gets out of it (or doesn't get out) . If you’re just the average sensible believer however, everything should be ok. You’ve been warned.

    5. I’m not accustomed with many internet aspects, like finding and posting interesting pictures since my home connection is recent (and quite unstable) and I wasn’t exactly bothering with that at work. So, such features might come progressively later. You’ve been warned.

    6. I would appreciate comments, critics and corrections on any aspect of my work. One of my goals here is to improve my crafts and do better updates along the road, so anything would be great from basic english to storytelling. Even insults would do. Not that I would really like it or find it very constructive, but hey, that would be a strong message though (not to mention that I would most probably learn some of these insults in the process, could prove handy in the future ).

    7. I started with an intricate plot and a general guideline. Then I’ve re-read it all and my first thought has been : "how the hell will I get through that thing. " The second has been : "the whole thingy sucks big time". The third has been : "okay, I give up, no AAR". Finally, I’ve taken a few months to realise that I wouldn’t ever do anything at all with such an attitude. So, scrap those notes, plots and headaches, I’ll just start at the beginning with a vague idea of where I want to go. The game itself is played up to 1557 though. It might be the end date for the AAR as well, given the special in-game situation, quite not sure yet.

    8. I didn’t know what to use as a title. This one doesn’t make much sense, but is certainly not worse than any other one I’d have found after a few more weeks of brain leaking. And given the creamy consistence this brain of mine has developed by now (almost 5 A.M. here), I’ll shut off my computer and go to bed as soon as this couple of posts is on the forum. Do not expect me back before this afternoon (well, afternoon here, french time, that is…).

    9. This is by no means an "historical" AAR. I don't have the knowlege nor the will for it. Which doesn't mean I haven't done some investigations on the topic, of course. Besides, there are already several documented AARs about this area and timeframe (I should read them to steal ideas and references, and to support their authors, of course. But I've just got time to quikly browse through them so far). So your comments about history or historically weird things in my story are very welcome, but I don't feel bound to such things anyway. You’ve been warned.

    I probably forgot a few, but they might come later. And you’re certainly fed up with those warnings, if only you had the patience to read them all, of course . In short I hardly know better than you what to expect of this.


    In conclusion, guess what ?

    You’ve been warned.
    Last edited by Nil-The-Frogg; 02-11-2007 at 15:11. Reason: Need to make it more welcoming ;)
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    "Growth for the sake of growth is the ideology of the cancer cell" (Edward Abbey)
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  2. #2
    Big fetid toad
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    #1

    Serbia : February 1419 AD

    Muffled knocks came from the door. Both chess players lift their heads and the older one shouted :

    “Lena ! What are you waiting to open the door ? You don’t want our visitor to freeze on his feet, do you ?”

    The maid hurried toward the entrance, grasping her dress in the left hand and pulled aside the bar that was keeping the heavy manor’s door locked. A grey beam of light, filtering through a leaden sky, illuminated the main room’s darkness and a chilling gust of wind came inside along with a man dressed in furs. Lena quickly closed the door while the man was shaking some flakes from his beard and brows. He took off his big coat and cap.

    The older chess player’s mood lit up. Fire’s razing light amplified the shadows along a big scar running across his face top to bottom, just like if his whole head had been ajar. The smile was frank and welcoming nonetheless.

    “Well, I wasn’t expecting a visit from our dear priest ! How are you ?”

    He struggled to raise from his chair, grimacing with pain as soon as his gout-worn foot touched the floor. He still managed to stand, having taken his crutch. His strong son was careful not to help him, but stayed close, just in case. The priest, a forty years old podgy little man came to him :

    “Ah, lord Gimnec, just tell me why in the world you need to stand like that ! I ain’t the Patriarch, you know."

    "By my beard ! God’s given me legs to walk, d’you hear me ? My rotten carcass is bad enough not to be able to ride anymore, the old man answered, hobling toward the entrance with his son on his heels, I won’t be nailed to my chair! Bah, as you can see we were playing chess before lunch. You will join in and eat a little something with us, won’t you ?"

    "I’m sorry to interrupt your game, but yes, I would happily have a meal with you" the priest said.

    "Bah, I was loosing, laughed the old baron. And we had to stop anyway: Piotr must go and inspect our estates in the afternoon."

    "I fear that Piotr must change his schedule" the priest replied, his mood getting darker.

    "Ah, given the temperature you can be sure I won’t protest" the big young man laughed brightly "but it has better be important or I might feel a certain crutch on my back! Come on, my Father, what happens ?"

    "Let’s sit by the fire, so that your father doesn’t have to stand up so stubbornly.”

    The old baron cast a black look at the priest, but didn’t protest. So the three of them sat around the worn wooden chess board while Lena was getting back to the kitchen. They kept silent for a while, the priest warming his hands by the hearth, thinking. He finally began, still staring at the embers :

    “I’ve made the walk from the village cause I have grave news that could not wait till you visit us."

    "Well, Piotr interrupted with laughing blue eyes, they sure could wait one hour though. So why not wait a little then? Is anything sadder than a mourning meal?”

    His father shrugged and showed their heavy table :

    “Lena will serve us at once, and you’ll have time to let us know your news later.”

    So they moved to crude robust benches and Lena quickly served them a cabbage soup with a small amount of fat as a taste enhancer. After a short prayer, they began to slurp loudly.

    “How’s your wife?"

    "Very well indeed, I bet she’ll see us all in the grave. She’s still ranting about Krayna."

    "No? About this tub knocked over?"

    "Ah Piotr, you’re malicious here! That was several months ago!"

    "So what? She still not loses an occasion to remember me of this chicken I plucked for fun when I was what? Six years old?"

    "Ah, that was a big chicken you know… Very tasty by the way.”

    The priest faked deep sorrow and shrinked on his bench.

    “Ah, you might be right. She’s still mad at me for our marriage and this was almost thirty years ago…”

    Piotr exploded in laugher.

    “You know, I think she’s really kind, but has to rant about everything to mark her authority."

    "That I know yes. She wants to compensate what she sees as laxism from my part. But hey, I won’t change her, will I ?"

    "Better try to convert all the heathen! the baron concluded with a smile." This triggered a new burst of laugh from his son, but a surprising grim expression from the priest.

    They kept chit-chatting for the rest of the meal, until Lena brought three thick glasses and a flask of alma. The three men regained their places by the fire to drink and Gimnec finally asked:

    “So, what has been enough of a mess to push you through these loads of snow, heh?"

    "Simply put, king Stepan is calling his vassals and knights to arms."

    "What ? The old Gimnec stepped forward with surprise, what’s that joke ? In middle of winter ?"

    "Spring isn’t that far now. In fact the Turks are the ones who declared war on us and Stepan wants to be sure that his troops have gathered before they attack. They’ve amassed a huge army in Bulgaria and threaten our whole eastern border from southern Kosovo to Wallachia."

    "When has it happened ?" Piotr asked.

    "News from it arrived in Novi Pazar at the begining of the week and in the village just yesterday. I thought I had to warn you."

    "I guess I have to go to Novi Pazar as soon as possible" Piotr said.

    "You have to ready your equipment first." The baron’s voice was a whispering, but remained firm. "You’ll probably need the whole afternoon. Better leave tomorow."

    He was livid, seemingly in shock. After a while, his voice tainted with a touch of anger, he finally added :

    “What has come over him ?"

    "What ?" Piotr asked, surprised and curious.

    "Well, the king of the Turks…"

    "The Sultan" the priest corrected.

    "Yes, indeed, the sultan. The sultan of the Turks wants to reunite his father’s empire, torn apart by the mongols. So Stepan received an official message from him last year, reminding him of the battle of Ankara where serbian troops have been the only ones to remain on the side of Bayezid, the sultan of that time. In short, Stepan was told that the sultan was still grateful for this and wanted to renew the links between Ottomans and us, to seal a new alliance, and to receive the respects from Stepan. And I still fail to understand how our king has decided to answer like that."

    "But, father, he wasn’t in position to agree anyway. He already pays allegiance to the king of Hungary."

    "Of course. But was he really forced to answer that he wouldn’t eat in the same trough as pigs ?”

    After a short moment of embarrassment, the priest sighed :

    “Granted, it wasn’t very… tactful from him."

    "You mean that he had too much absinth beforehand" the baron replied with a harsh tone.

    "On the other hand, said Piotr, we’ll have to fight the Turks one day or another. Their threat to Christendom must be repelled. And you told me countless times that when a confrontation is imminent, it’s better to have it quickly and settle the matter."

    "That’s a tad more complex, the priest carefully answered, I’m not sure who’s the worst threat toward Universal Church : either the turks or the schism. Hungary’s catholic and the Pope doesn’t make any secret about his will to subjugate the serbian Patriarchate."

    "But, Hungary is christian, at least, argued Piotr. That’s probably better to fight infidels with them and then settle our dispute with the Pope, isn’t it ?"

    "Things are not that simple my son, the priest explained. As strange as it might sound, Turks are more tolerant to us than catholics. He hesitated a few seconds and pursued : and we won’t fight along with Hungary anyway."

    "What ?"

    "Pray explain that !"

    "Our suzerain Zsigmond has refused to honour our alliance."

    "Bloody bastard !”

    Seized with furor, the old baron kicked the floor and literally collapsed under the pain irradiating from his foot. This made his scandalous words ignored and the others two tried to comfort and calm him.

    “But… Why ? Asked Piotr. I can understand political intrications, but still, I’d have thought Zsigmond a man of honor and pride."

    "Zsigmond is a bit… unstable, answered the priest and his war against Venice is going bad for him. So there’s no surprise if he doesn’t want to divert troops to help us against the heathens."

    "You must be joking, growled the baron, he simply hates us, period."

    "Well, that’s probably a bit excessive. But he would admittedly be keener on us if we had recognised Papal authority and the distinction between the Father and the Son."

    "So, in short, we’re alone against the turks, Piotr asked still starring at the fire with a worried face."

    "Oh, not exactly. I mean not completely : Bohemia and her overlord Luxembourg have honoured the alliance."

    "Ah ! The baron snorted. So we have great allies that need to cross the whole of Hungary for the first and half of Europe for the other, if they only hope to even stop a single turk. Damn, I don’t even know where exactly is this
    “Luxembourg” ! On the other side of the so called Holy Roman Empire, if I’m not mistaken ?"

    "I see, Piotr remarked sadly. They don’t take great risks siding with us. The situation is dire indeed. But I’ll go and defend the kingdom and Christendom with grim determination !”

    He was expecting congratulations and cheering. But the two elders remained silent and meditative, letting the embers cackle alone. His father finally spoke :

    “You cockerel-a-hoop ! You have no idea of the true nature of war."

    "But, father, I shall defend the realm and Christendom. And the honour of your house as well. This is my duty. And who knows, I might even earn glory in battle."

    "Of course you’ll go, what else to be done ? But glory ? Don’t bother with that. You’re really thinking about it lightly my son. What d’you think about war ? That’s a game ? Nope, that’s an abomination ! God can’t love war unless He’s fond of the smell of putrefaction and excrement !”

    In shock, Piotr stared desperately at the priest. The later returned him a tense smile, but didn’t get time to answer before the baron continued :

    “Bah, I better say that in your presence, Father, this way I won’t have to go all the way to the village to confess my blasphemous words…”

    And he pointed at his bandaged foot. The priest hesitated a few seconds, then nodded and looked at Piotr.

    “How to put that? What your father said is borderline blasphemy. But he’s got at least one good point. War shouldn’t be taken lightly. I’ve seen so many worthy men coming back in such a pitiful condition, or not coming back at all. On the other hand you’re right : it’s definitely your sacred duty to go."

    "I agree with that, said the old baron, and I would immediately disinherit you, should you try to escape. But I want you to understand a few things. And I’m speaking as a veteran right now. They will probably assign you to light cavalry. By no means should you complain. Instead, proudly agree. Yeah yeah, I know you’re skilled with your sword and an outstanding rider, but you have neither the training of a knight, neither his equipment, nor his war horse. Speaking of that, be careful with Crocus, she’s a good mount, but war has not much in common with hunting, so you can’t know how she will behave. Oh, and also : always pay close attention to your equipment and mount. Always."

    "Hear, father…"

    "Yeah, yeah, that sounds obvious, doesn’t it ? But attention can be alleviated when you’re tired, over agitated or afraid."

    "But…"

    "Yes, afraid you will be, I promise. And consequences might be dire. Something else : never ever commit the mistake of underestimating the Turks. They perfectly know what is a knight: they’ve fought them for ages. I’ve been in two battles against their armies and was on their side at Nicopolis and Ankara. I know them. I respect them. Believe me : if they happen to stand still in front of a charge, you better have to consider there’s a reason for it. And speaking of a charge, never ever go berserk and run blindly against them. And avoid following those fools that try such a stupid move, as much as possible. That’s the kind of childish behaviour that’s the more efficient at filling graves. Ah, still something else. If you’re sent to scouting missions, try to keep away from their own light cavalry. They’ve inherited it from the Mongol hordes. I think I don’t know any deadlier opponent... They’d just need their sultan to ask and you’d find them in a week hunting those lambs that are born from irish trees…"

    "Hear father! I promise I’ll keep everything you said in mind, but on the other hand, I can hardly go to war with the prospect of dodging any fight, can I?”

    The old baron stared at his son, thinking about other advices, his scar slightly contorting under a twitch. But he finally realized there was no point in speaking all day long and that he would not do any more good than the rudimentary military training he had provided to his son in the past years. He sighed heavily and sent Piotr gathering his weapons, and a good amount of food supplies. But he called him back :

    “Piotr, let’s fight like a lion. Your inheritance is meagre, he added, looking at the scarcely furnished main room, but please, come back and enjoy it…"

    "Of course father. How would you keep your estates in hands without me anyway ? Oh, and I still have to take your king too. ”

    He winked and left the room. The old baron did not react. When his son had gone, he sighed heavily again and faced the priest :

    “My Father, I have a dire presentiment. I fear that those Turks are well decided to get talked about a bit farther than our snowy hole…”


    ---------------------------------------------------------------------------
    Initial situation:

    Last edited by Nil-The-Frogg; 17-11-2006 at 18:15.
    .
    "Growth for the sake of growth is the ideology of the cancer cell" (Edward Abbey)
    -------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
    Mon site perso / My personal website
    -------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
    For great short stories on various topics, check Guess the author !
    -------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
    No, it's probably not Chicago... (shamefully abandonned). / Non, ce n'est probablement pas Chicago... : la traduction du précédent, tout aussi honteusement abandonnée).

  3. #3
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    Ah, you've started your own AAR! You're a braver man than I, Frogg. And whatever you might say about the title you choose for this story (it's... quirky, to say the least), it managed to draw me in like a fly to a fresh-laid cow... well, you get the picture.

    Are you playing as Serbia? In that case, you've done well to survive until 1557. Or are you playing as the Turk and merely starting by describing your adversary?

    I like your description of the old baron and his manor. I take it he is a very small noble, his 'manor' sounds like little more than a slightly upscale farm. But it sounds realistic: Serbia isn't a very rich place in the beginning of the game.

    Good luck writing this. I'll do my best to follow along.

  4. #4
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    Ah, Stuyvesant, the elite ReadAAR! I'm not surprised that you're the first one to post here (and hope you won't be the last). I remember that the first post I stumbled across the very first time I visited AARland was someone (maybe Director) telling you it was a shame you didn't write yourself, given the quality of your feedbacks and the cleverness of your comments. For me, you really should do as you feel it, period.

    Regarding my braveness... On one hand I'm a faithful reader of Director's stories, of Storey's Kingdom of Jerusalem and I've started with Amric's great detectives and assassins and stnylan's Memory of France. So, I feel a bit like Michael Moore trying to get elected Playboy's miss of the month... Go figure. In that sense, yes, I'm really brave! On the other hand, I suppose I wouldn't qualify for such a praise t'il I've finished this AAR: too many works are quite not in progress anymore around the corner...

    No, I'm not playing as Serbia! OTOH, this AAR would have been a short work... Mmm, now that I think about it, am I not playing Serbia actually?

    It's amasing how many things you see once you've posted that you never noticed in Word. I spent almost half an hour editing things in "preview" mode before deciding there was no point in trying to rewrite everything on the fly.

    For instance I've discovered an anoying tendancy to begin sentenses with "Well, ...", particularly in dialogues. Well, I guess that's because I'm always strugling to find my words and gramatical constructions and this beginning "well" buys me some time. First post of the AAR and I already have a bad habit to hunt down . By the way, if you have some other words or expressions typically used to open an intervention, I'd be interested. The good point is that I won't lack water, as long as I have a rope and a bucket...

    You're right about Gimnec, of course. I'd say he's not only poor, but his house (I mean his dynasty, "house" is appropriate in this context, isn't it?) is seriously fading. AARs often follow rulers or characters close to them. I wanted some change from that and take the perspective of people actually living decisions rather than taking them.

    My girlfriend is coming back tonight from a more than a month long trip, so don't expect another update too soon, although I'm already at work on it. I'm rather happy when she goes away (especially when it's a pleasant trip for her) and even happier when she comes back! Isn't that wonderful?

    Ah, last thing: I add a 9th warning .
    Last edited by Nil-The-Frogg; 11-02-2006 at 16:01.
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  5. #5
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    I'm delighted to see you take the plunge, and judging by the first installment you'll do well. Of course you will have to keep giving us regular updates or we will become whiney. You have been warned!
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    I was worried after all the warnings, but you had a fine start. Looking forward to the rest of it!

    Last edited by Stroph1; 11-02-2006 at 22:39.
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    Oh, you'll have other updates, I'm on it already! My warnings were not in vain though, since I really have to struggle with this. Not to mention that I have some weird turn of mind and I'm currently writing the fourth installment. So, I still have to come back to the second one before posting anything. How have I said that? Oh yes, you've been warned...

    I might submit it before the end of next week. the important word is MIGHT. But I'll really try nonetheless.
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  8. #8
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    A very good start. I'm looking forward to where you take this. So I suppose you are playing the Turk then? And the Baron - great at the end. He reminded me of Polonius from Hamlet. Never a borrower or a lender be...

    Good luck with this.
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  9. #9
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    #2

    Byzantium : March 1419 AD


    The morning air was full of flowers sent throughout the City. Many houses and palaces were almost empty for decades, but parks and gardens were still dotting the whole area. Alexios had opened his shop several hours before and spent some time enjoying this golden light pouring from the skies and warming his ageing bones. He didn’t knew what made sunlight so special in the City, like an emphasis of its glory. It might have been in his own eyes, of course. That didn’t matter: it was like a gentle rain of gold on him. And what could please a merchant any more than that?



    Then these two customers had arrived. He knew both women all too well, but they had money and were regulars. Not that his little stand had been a big part of his profits anymore, but trade is trade. Not to mention that he had some sentimental bound with what had been the root of his business. He had always greeted his customers with suave professional kindness.

    The two of them had bought their spices and had been talking for half an hour when a young man in sober black clothes made out of a luxurious fabric arrived. They did not notice him and he waited patiently behind them. The thiner of the two women was speaking with a warbling profound voice, never releasing her grab on her silk foulard, probably fearing the almost still air might blow it away.

    “I tell you they’re so barbaric. You never know what they’ll do to get even worse than you think!
    - And even what we know is horrendous enough! Added her fat friend with a piercing tone.
    - Do you realise how depraved their women could be, doing naughty things in their harems?”

    Alexios raised a dark abundant eyebrow:

    “Oh my! I suppose I’d better not try to figure out.
    - Oh yes, you’re a decent man at least, the thin one replied.
    - Not like some of our nobles, pursued the fat one.
    - Ah, they simply bow to those Turks!
    - They have no decency.
    - Have you heard of this Verina Ospinas? You know, the Patriarch’s daughter.
    - No.
    - Ah, she’s been seen dancing like a snake for young drunken men! Just like they do with those irritating moaning sounds they call music.
    - Those dissolute behaviours will doom us!”

    Alexios vigorously nodded in agreement, but did not try to add anything.

    “I’ve heard that a boy has to kill his father to become a man in Bursa, whispered the thin one.
    - No? Alexios was seemingly in shock with this revelation.
    - Yes, they do. And then, they get their mothers in their harems. Do you realise that?
    - It’s unbelievable!
    - Indeed!
    - And we’re letting those savage beasts cross our lands freely!
    - Oh pray tell me what they look like, with their pitiful excuse for an army?
    - All I have to say is that the legions should give them a lesson.”

    Alexios said nothing, but was obviously completely agreeing.

    “Ah, I never miss a legion’s parade! They are real soldiers at least: disciplined, glowing with gold and pride… dreamily added the bigger customer.
    - Now, we’re told they’re too many! But what’s the number without the quality? I ask you.
    - Ah, of course, Alexios commented.
    - Oh and we can pay mercenaries as well.
    - Not those beardy smelling norsemen, of course, said the thin one, looking around, just in case some of them could have been wandering in the street. No my good man: italian mercenaries!
    - Ah yes, continued the fat one. Italians would cut those heathens to pieces!”

    They kept speaking some more time, chatting about internal politics, upper society’s gossips, youth’s lack of proper education and a wide array of other things. But their favourite topic was obviously the Turks. At last they decided to leave, maybe because they’ve finally noticed there was another customer waiting, but more likely because they were getting tired. The young man nonchalantly took their place. He had a very regular visage, albeit with a slightly distorted nose. He was impeccably shaved and his crow black hair looked perfectly nice. He was not exactly a dandy, but obviously careful about his outfit. He casually addressed Alexios:

    “Ah my good man, you should probably sell crap.
    - Certainly sir. Why is that?
    - Because those women would be able to provide you infinite amounts of it.
    - Yes sir, Alexios agreed with a quick dry nod.
    - I think I’ve never heard such a density of it for such an extended period of time.
    - No sir, certainly not. I have the best providers you can find for any kind of goods.
    - You must be the obvious man to deal with then.
    - I am.”

    Alexios finally laughed.

    “But tell me, my dear Maro, did you fare well?
    - Indeed. But please, Alexios, I’d like to know: do you get something in return for withstanding those two “cases” or should I bow to your divine patience? I personally would charge ten percent more than usual.
    - Ten percent? Alexios was obviously offended.
    - Herm, I guess that’s not overpaid for such an ordeal.
    - Hell, I wouldn’t take less than fifteen to twenty percent for the pain!
    - Sounds reasonable indeed. I hope they come at rush hours?
    - No, thanks God. But I suppose you’ve got some golden tale for me, heh? I’ll ask Isidore to keep the shop while we talk. His current tasks can wait.”

    Maro simply shrugged and waited. Alexios came back and lead the way to a flourished little garden behind the shop. A silver plate littered with small honey puff pastries was waiting for them on a remarkably crafted willow small table. They both sat and began nibbling and chatting.

    “So, did the Turks sold you all those wonderful spices? I need some to sell with this twenty percent increased price, you know…
    - They did.
    - Great.
    - But things have not gone as smoothly as usual though.
    - Problems?
    - Sort of, yes.
    - Anything serious?
    - I’ve survived, obviously.”

    A discrete but genuine smile confirmed that he hadn’t get hurt either.

    “Things are on the move in Osman’s empire. There was something in the air. I don’t know how to put that, but it made me nervous in the port. Let’s say the atmosphere was… different from my previous visits. So I chose to delay unloading and went to see Ilhami.
    - Ilhami?
    - Oh, she owns a bakery.
    - So, I guess my next question should be: so what?
    - Let’s say she deals in various other trades as well, not to mention that her greek is a tad better than my turkish, which can be handy on occasions. A devilish woman I must say. I always feel on a slippery ground while negotiating with her.
    - Mmm, I won’t ask how you got in touch with her.
    - Thanks. There were many customers in her shop, which wasn’t exactly a safe context for a conversation, even in greek.
    - Particularly in greek, I guess.
    - Perhaps. That’s why I just asked her about current gossips that might be of interest to an honest foreign trader. She told me she’d heard Koça Mest got promoted.
    - Koça Mest, Koça Mest… Isn’t he this port officer you told me about?
    - Yes, himself. A brave man. Corrupt to the bones with an unquenchable thirst for money. He was good at discussing a fair tax rate with us, poor businessmen.
    - Not the kind of guy to ask or strive for a promotion if you ask me…
    - Indeed.
    - Did she say anything else?
    - No.”

    Alexios inclined his head and had a slight smile in the corner of his mouth.

    “Let’s say I’ll take that. So?
    - Hem, I simply went to the custody office and declared our wares. I didn’t know the employee, but he asked me if I’d follow the usual procedure.
    - Bad smell there.
    - I told him that I would of course and that given the unloading tax rate I had to be charged a little more than one hundred and twenty ducats. He seemed a little surprised, but didn’t made any comment. I paid everything, from custody to mere market taxes.
    - Ouch.
    - Yes, cut out about twenty two percent of our expected profit in the end.
    - Never mind, I think you’ve been right.
    - And I know I’ve been. Heraclonas landed just the day after me and rushed through our “regular procedure”. He’s been arrested a few hours later. Seems like the power in Bursa has decided to clean up traffic in ports and to keep things, and particularly money, in hands. I’m not worried for Heraclonas though. I guess he’ll be able to buy his way out pretty quick. But he will have a harder time getting his wares back, not to mention that further trade will be a tad more complicated for him in the future.
    - Ah, it’s sad, but we shall not complain about it, shall we?
    - You’re heartless my brave Alexios.
    - Anything else interesting?
    - Maybe. They’re at war. There were full boats of supplies ready to go at the docks. Galleys conveying new recruits too.
    - Yes, we’ve got word of their operations in Serbia. Not that has come as a surprise though. They’ve spent a year building small forts from Salonika to the Wallachian border, filling them with grain, fodder, water barrels and so on… They’ve even worked on the roads. Never been easier to travel in the area. Which doesn’t necessarily mean much of course, given how displeasing it was.
    - This war might be an opportunity.
    - Oh, I’ve looked into it. Got some deals, made some money. But not that much: they’re so maniac with their logistics that everything must be under their own control or they get nervous. And I don’t like to bargain with nervous people. Especially when they’re generals, see?
    - Quite.”

    Alexios ate another pastry.

    “Regarding our little business, what does the end result look like?
    - Well, in short we’re left with approximately our expected six hundred ducats benefit.
    - Wait a minute, haven’t you told you lost about twenty two percent out of it to the taxmen?
    - Oh, please, my dear Alexios…”

    The tone was casual, but there was a small hint of something else. Something that raised an inner alarm in Alexios mind. Of course nothing else than bonhomie filtered through his expression until he replied:

    “Ah, that was a good move Maro, you’re getting some clever reflexes in the trade…”

    Maro humbly smiled waving his hands in a vague motion that could as well mean “of course” as “thank you”. Or both.

    “I’m really tired though. If you’d allow me to get some rest?”

    Alexios’ smile widened and he replied with a gentle pad on Maro’s shoulder:

    “Of course, of course. You’ve quite earned it, haven’t you? You can have the week to rest and have a little fun, if you wish.”

    Only late in the evening did he finally understood the obvious. He was getting old. No wonder Maro had tried to probe him, and would have succeeded without this quick answer. The little bastard probably felt he would sooner than later take the business from his senior. Alexios smiled. That would be a wonderful opportunity to retire and spend some peaceful years in his Cretan villa.
    Last edited by Nil-The-Frogg; 10-04-2007 at 01:34.
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  10. #10
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    What, your girlfriend is back from a month long trip and you found time to post an update? Are you sure you’re French? What happened to l'amour tout est? I would have thought for sure you'd be laying with your head in her lap by a stream while she fed you grapes and you would tell her of your love for her. Oh wait a minute is winter isn't it, never mind.

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  11. #11
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    Glad to have you as a reader Storey. French? Well, I don't know sometimes... She was very tired after this trip anyway and slept like an anvil (translation from french word by word, quite evocative, heh?). Now, if that's more about romance, we had a "dîner aux chandelles", among other things. But that's becoming a little too intimate, so let's abandon this topic now...

    For the record, I've posted way sooner than expected due to insomnia. Not that I ain't happy to have done this quickly, but I think I'd rather not repeat this too often...

    Ah, another thing: I've noticed that I frenquently need to come back on my work and fix tenses, among other things ("has done" in place of "had done", for instance). But I'm never completely certain about it. So, if someone would have the patience to check a little...
    Last edited by Nil-The-Frogg; 26-11-2006 at 10:47.
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  12. #12
    This is off to an interesting start. I keen to follow this where it goes.

  13. #13
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    Ah, wonderful! I really enjoyed the merchants' exchange and how you used that scene to reveal a lot of information about the Ottomans. So, you're not playing as Serbia, but does that mean you're playing as the Turks or as Byzantium? If you are playing as the Turks and if you're planning to keep reflecting on their actions through outsiders (the Serbs, the Byzantines), it should make for an interesting story. Rather than "this is what the Turks did", have it be more of a "this is how the rest of the world witnessed what the Turks did".

    Of course, I could be very much off target here. But so far, I'm intrigued by the Turkish moves seen through the Serbian and Byzantine eyes.

    PS: I see you're putting your knowledge of Ottoman logistics (which you mentioned in Director's AAR) to good use. I liked that description of the Turkish preparations for war with Serbia.

  14. #14
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    Duke: Thanks.

    Stuyvesant: I also wanted to show a contrast between belligerents. Don’t know if I succeeded at that. We might hear about them again though…

    And yes, I thought that a view from the bottom and outside would be an interesting stance. But I have something else in store too. Which begins with next post. The dreaded post for me, since it opens up the track toward this Bloody Overwhelming Mess mentioned in 7th warning. Now, I will have to find a way to sort it out.

    Note: I originally intended an update twice as long, but I’m off for the week-end and wanted to post something for you to chew in the meanwhile. The rest will come next week, hopefully.

    I reread the second instalment and realised that “bastard” might be a bit too strong as an insult in Alexios mind in the end . As you can guess, I’m not very documented about insults and pick them pretty much as they come…
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  15. #15
    I'm sure you'll have nothing to fear. The AAR is high quality so far and I believe you'll cope

  16. #16
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    #3



    North Lake Shore Drive, Tuesday

    The black car was going lazily on North Lake Shore Drive. Not that Matt wasn’t an able driver, but Hitchgins was never feeling at ease with those scrap heaps, all the more on rainy days. Matt wondered if his sergeant had ever rode a horse either… The idea made him giggle. His passenger, who was chewing an extinguished shapeless cigarette butt, did not even look at him.

    “Ah boy, that’s good’a see ya in a good mood, eh? Must be this rain.”

    Matt didn’t judge useful to develop on the topic.

    “Hum, I wonder why they send us to this errand. Why not inspectors in civil? Would be their job, wouldn’t it?”

    The passenger wiped some condensation from his window.

    “Harumpf! Better than wandering… Er, I mean patrolling streets. Not a weather to put flatfeet outside if ya ask me.
    - Well, I guess you’re right.
    - Not their real concern of course. Would not try to make ar life easier ya know. Hey! Slow down kid, slow down.
    - Don’t worry, I keep the beast under control.
    - Maybe, but I woulda like check houses. Think we’ll soon be there. What’s da number here?
    - Hum, wait a minute… 355.
    - Next house. Park the car on the roadside. Would be a hell of a bargain before they let us in with a car. The wealthiest, the nitpickier.”

    Said house, sitting in a sizeable garden, was rather big and recently built. Small trees were scattered on both sides of a gravelled alley. The house itself counted two stories, with a main door on top of two lateral stairs, about one meter and half from the ground: certainly a way to preserve inhabited parts from dampness. There were big windows, muffled with heavy red curtains.



    The cops parked their car on a narrow band of grass and crossed the road to get in front of an heavy iron gate. Matt had to manoeuvre around a deep mud puddle to reach the bell push-button. A big man came out of the house about a dozen seconds later. He wore a tailored white suit and used an umbrella. He stood by the gate, but made no move to open. He observed the cops top to bottom, his moustache writhed with a mood of disdain.

    “What do you want?
    - We’re here for ya boss, said Hitchgins.
    - Oh, really? And what do you want to him then?
    - We’ve got an information that Mr Kallistos might be willing to buy.”

    The man hesitated a moment, gauging his interlocutors. The young one seemed a little lost, uneasy and probably a little ashamed. For the sergeant… if anyone ever deserved to be nicknamed “pig”, he was this one. Those guys were doubtlessly able to sell anything. Whether it was of value remained a faint possibility though…

    “Okay, wait here. I’ll tell Mr Kallistos you’re here.
    - Just enough time for us to be rain-soaked, eh?
    - You’re the sellers, aren’t you? Buyer is king.”

    The man smiled and went. They stayed under this light but cold and steady rain.

    “Not very friendly, Matt commented.
    - What did you expect? He doesn’t like coppers. All the more corrupt ones begging for cash.
    - Do you think the trick will do?
    - Bah, Hitchgins sighed, if not then we’ll be back even sooner, report back and basta.”

    The big man came back a few minutes later. He directly opened the thick gate and let them in, leading the way to the house.

    “I warn you : you better have to watch your steps in here, or there will be some happy beating. Capito?
    - I think so.”

    They carefully rubbed their shoes clean and entered a corridor, then a vast living-room. Waxed parquet, shining wooden furniture, china plates : everything was luxurious and cozy, but quite not the greek interior they were expecting. Not that either of them knew what a greek interior would look like, of course. A gramophone was playing a strange swinging music with exotic rhythms and many strings. This one could be greek, Matt thought a bit absent-mindedly. Their guide stayed with them :

    “Mr Kallistos will ask for you in a minute.”

    So they waited, water dripping from their clothes. A handful of minutes later came another gorilla in another white tailored suit. This one had big black side whiskers that looked rather odd, but didn’t make him any more friendly.

    “Mr Kallistos is waiting for you. But we’ll have to rid you off your guns.”

    Sergeant Hitchgins shrugged and gave his to the man. Matt had a brief hesitation, but reluctantly complied.

    “Please, follow me.”



    The tone was dry and official, but not enough to hide a touch of contempt. They went upstairs. Corridors were covered with carpets on the floor and thick wallpapers on the walls. Their guide knocked at a polished oak door. An irritated answer came from behind and the man opened. They entered a room overloaded with bibelots and curios. This was half-way between the average doctor’s office and a museum. Strange crowns in a showcase particularly caught Matt’s eyes. A huge desk was sitting in the middle, clean and only supporting a big golden reading lamp. A man was opening a big window. He was in his fifties, but still had abundant black hair. An immaculate striped black and white suit admirably fitted his slightly fattening body. Matt realised this one was just as classy and insipid as any banker he had ever seen, saving a golden pendant shining on his chest.



    The man came back to his desk, sat without prompting them to do the same and frowned at them.

    “Hear gentlemen, I’m pretty busy. I hope you’re worth my time.
    - Oh, I suppose we are.”

    Mr Kallistos had a mocking smile.

    “I would content myself with your information being worthy though.”

    Hitchgins did not notice the sarcasm, or simply ignored it.

    “Of course Mr Kallistos, but I won’t take the risk to tell you anything with anyone witnessing…”

    Kallistos observed his visitors. Both of them wore wet uniforms and the sergeant’s one would probably enjoy an ironing. The young one looked nervous, shifting from foot to foot and swallowing every few seconds, his eyes exploring the room like wild butterflies. The sergeant on the other hand had the inertia and the sort of sleepiness developed by an old disenchanted man. His prominent belly, neglected dress, uncombed hair, chaotic burnt moustache and general offhand manners were quite eloquently showing it. Bulging lower eyelids and yellowish tired eyes were spoking of countless hours of boring three-copies reports typing. The kind of old beggar shamelessly trying to take what can be taken before his retirement.

    “That’s okay, leave us Demetrios.”

    Said Demetrios went out, discretely closing the door.

    “Very well. Now, give me some hints, so that I could determine how much I’d be ready to pay for what you have. And eventually refrain from having your butts kicked out of here as well.”

    Hitchgins sighed:

    “Bah, as much as it saddens me to tell it, our services are free.
    - Free? I don’t get it.
    - We’re to deliver an invitation.
    - Oh? And who would send a couple of flatfeet to deliver me an invitation?”

    Hitchgins sighed again.

    “Judge Peter.”

    Kallistos tightened up.

    “When? Where?
    - Tomorrow, eight p.m. Cozy Cat club.
    - Anything else?
    - Nope.
    - Still don’t understand why you were sent.
    - Bah, we do our job, which doesn’t involve asking why we do it. Ask him if you’re interested, eh?
    - Thank you gentlemen. Now be gone.”
    Last edited by Nil-The-Frogg; 14-11-2006 at 13:26.
    .
    "Growth for the sake of growth is the ideology of the cancer cell" (Edward Abbey)
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    Mon site perso / My personal website
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    For great short stories on various topics, check Guess the author !
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    No, it's probably not Chicago... (shamefully abandonned). / Non, ce n'est probablement pas Chicago... : la traduction du précédent, tout aussi honteusement abandonnée).

  17. #17
    Hmmm, intriguing, I interested to see how this will fit into the story. Will we have to wait a week to find out?

  18. #18
    Big fetid toad
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    Less than a week, I hope. Oh, I mean less than a week for an update. Now, to find out, maybe more...
    .
    "Growth for the sake of growth is the ideology of the cancer cell" (Edward Abbey)
    -------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
    Mon site perso / My personal website
    -------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
    For great short stories on various topics, check Guess the author !
    -------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
    No, it's probably not Chicago... (shamefully abandonned). / Non, ce n'est probablement pas Chicago... : la traduction du précédent, tout aussi honteusement abandonnée).

  19. #19
    Quote Originally Posted by Nil-The-Frogg
    Less than a week, I hope. Oh, I mean less than a week for an update. Now, to find out, maybe more...
    I see. So warning 7 is going to be proved true soon. Will this current theme not continue for a few updates?

  20. #20
    Big fetid toad
    Crusader Kings IIEuropa Universalis 3Divine WindHeir to the ThroneEuropa Universalis III: In Nomine
    EU3 Napoleon's AmbitionSemper FiVictoria 2Victoria II: A House Divided500k club
    Europa Universalis IV

    Join Date
    Aug 2004
    Location
    In a lovely pond of mud
    Posts
    1,190
    Oh my! You seem to worry even more than I do!

    Now, I'won't tell you about the story, but I have a few updates already. I mean they've not been typed down yet, but I have a good idea of their content though. So 7th warning is threatening, but we've got a few installments ahead before everything collapses...
    .
    "Growth for the sake of growth is the ideology of the cancer cell" (Edward Abbey)
    -------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
    Mon site perso / My personal website
    -------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
    For great short stories on various topics, check Guess the author !
    -------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
    No, it's probably not Chicago... (shamefully abandonned). / Non, ce n'est probablement pas Chicago... : la traduction du précédent, tout aussi honteusement abandonnée).

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