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Thread: l'éminence grise

  1. #1
    Field Marshal MrT's Avatar

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    Post l’Eminence Grise

    Preface

    Agincourt - October 25th, 1414 – mid-morning


    The field churned with mud. Horses were screaming in pain as arrows bit deeply into their hide. Rearing, leaping, falling. Heavily armoured men, my friends and comrades, thrown from the saddle only to be trampled by their wildly plunging mounts. Chaos. Utter chaos.

    And in the thick of it all, desperately trying to steer a terrified mount towards the distant English lines and out of the path of the devastating hail of the longbowmen’s arrows; that is where I found myself. I possessed a surpassing equestrian skill almost unequalled on the field of combat. By God! I could cut those filthy curs to ribbons for the Maypole before I was done!

    The ranks were thinning out now. Not that I had outpaced them, but rather that the casualties were of such a staggering degree that few men had made it thus far with me. I could see the eyes of the enemy knights. Grim with fatigue, dark with sleepless nights and malnourishment, but also joyous as they saw the flower of French chivalry slaughtered by their welsh yeomen. They stood there. Waiting. Waiting to finish off any of us who negotiated the course of death.

    Drawing my massive broad sword, I spurred my horse’ flanks yet once more – and realized as I did so that the poor beast would be as bloodied by my own urgings for speed as he would have been if struck by one of the many arrows that rained down around us. Poor Hermes. He would not soon forget the insult done to him by my heels this day.

    I had counselled d’Albret, Constable of all France and commander of this engagement; counseled him to avoid this battle. This field. This death. The ground was wet from several days’ rain and the hooves dug deeply into the sodden grass and mud. The pace was excruciating.

    The English, though in desperate straits themselves, were well-positioned and there was no denying that the opposing commander, King Henry V no less, was a motivator of men and brilliant tactician. No, the time to strike would be later, I had said. Wait for famine to leach their strength, for disease to lay them low, for internal strife and ultimately rebellion to do its job for the people of France.

    But no. d'Albret had insisted that a glorious battle and victory upon the field of combat would forever end this ruthless and bloody war. With Henry captured the ransom would be astronomical and would stand the monarchy in great stead for the future. “Break their backs!” he had ordered. “Destroy them all and bring their king to me in chains.”

    This was not to be. Not on this field and facing this determination. I rose in my stirrups, drew a great breath, and hurled a curse at the English King.

    “I will see you dead. One way or another, I will see your kingdom crumble and your fortunes fade. This I swear by almighty God, and I will suffer no rest until I see this accomplished, and more.”

    ***

    Arthur, an Englishman who counted himself among the ranks of the King’s longbowmen from Wales, saw the lone knight break free from the morass of bodies and spur his horse towards their lines. He methodically pulled a broad, steel-tipped arrow from the ground beside him. This was an arrow reserved especially for such a circumstance, an arrow to penetrate the armour of a fully-clad knight. Calmly he put the nock to his bowstring, drew the massive bow back with his powerful arm, sighted carefully along the line.

    The knight had drawn his sword and now rose in his stirrups to yell something in French. Arthur was too far away, and the battle noise was too loud. He couldn’t hear what the man was shouting. No matter. He cared not a whit.

    Arthur, also known as Longarm, loosed the shaft and watched with deep satisfaction as it flew true to the target, punched through the thick breastplate and drove straight into the enemy's heart. The foreign knight screamed once, and then fell lifeless from his mount. A second arrow, from another archer, speared through the unfortunate creature's neck a moment later.

    Pulling another arrow from the ground, Longarm began to scan the field for his next target. In all, perhaps five seconds had elapsed.


    ***

    Separation. Pain. Disorientation. Falling as if forever. Darkness. The depths of the abyss. And then, in the far distance, a light. A light that shone so bright I could hardly bare to look at it. And then?

    Love.

    Warmth.

    Comfort.

    I felt as though I was a child, sleeping comfortably in his mother’s arms. I felt lifted. Lightened. Unburdened. Joyous in a measure and degree that I had never experienced in my entire life. And with that thought came the sudden realisation.

    I am dead.

    The sense of bliss shattered. Dead. But I swore an oath with my last breath. My dying breath.

    “Would you return to the world of men to fulfill your oath?” It was a disembodied voice. A voice full of caring and love and compassion, in measure with the feelings that had just departed...and perhaps even more. It was all-encompassing.

    “I would.” My voice sounded thin. Weak.

    “Would you return, knowing that you have no flesh, no substance; that you will appear as a wraith or a ghost to those with whom you would speak?”

    “I would.” How could I not? I had sworn an oath.

    “So be it. Had fate dealt with you more gently, had I not had a need for you to rise to this higher challenge, you would have had your quiet rest. That day will come, but not now, not yet. Go now. Guide those who sit on the throne of France. Guide them to the glory. Guide them with wisdom, compassion, even ruthlessness at times when it is called for. Guide them through the centuries. Guide them to love me, and love themselves. Make them strong above all others. Let them wreak vengence unto my enemies, and succour the weak.”

    “I will do all you ask, Lord;” for I knew who it was who spoke thus to me. “All this and more. I pledge...” I was about to say ‘my life’ but knew that this had already been lost to me. “...my soul.”

    ***

    Ile de France - December 31st, 1418 – nearing midnight

    And I found myself in a dimly lit bedchamber. A small fire burned merrily away in the hearth to chase away the winter chill, but while I could see it I knew that none of its warmth would reach me. Nothing of physical substance would ever again touch me. Touch me. Move me. Feel me.

    Lying in fitful sleep on the canopied bed lay a man I knew as Charles. For some strange reason I never thought of them by their title or rank. To me they would always be just Charles, or Henri, or...well, that will come later. To the human world, this one was known as Charles VI. To me, he was simply Charles; an indifferent leader of men, with no particular strengths or weaknesses with regards to his skills or abilities.

    I prayed that, at very least, he would see me and hear me. With an effort I made myself visible to him. It took great concentration as I could, when relaxed, simultaneously see the entire realm from the grandest overview to the smallest infinitesimal detail. I had been doing so for a week or so now, just to get my bearings. But to make myself appear to them, to him, I had to really focus on placing myself in one place and time. Even then, I knew, I would seem thin and transparent. A ghost, as the voice had said.

    I hovered closer to him and waited for him to start from sleep. Eventually he did, and saw me. He cringed back with terror at the unexpected apparition. He made the sign of the cross and began to pray, rapidly reciting the words to the Apostles Creed.

    “Credo in Deum Patrem omnipotentem; Creatorem coeli et terrae.
    Et in Jesum Christum, Filium ejus unicum, Dominum nostrum; qui conceptus est de Spiritu Sancto, natus ex Maria virgine; passus sub Pontio Pilato, crucifixus, mortuus, et sepultus; descendit ad inferna; tertia die resurrexit a mortuis; ascendit ad coelos; sedet ad dexteram Dei Patris omnipotentis; inde venturus (est) judicare vivos et mortuos.

    Credo in Spiritum Sanctum; sanctam ecclesiam catholicam; sanctorum communionem; remissionem peccatorum; carnis resurrectionem; vitam oeternam.”


    “Amen” we said in unison.

    I had let the words wash over me. Strangely, they gave me more comfort, more solace than they seemed to do for him. I believe in one God, omnipotent; creator of heaven and earth...

    “Charles,” I said. “I am here to help you.”

    He merely gaped at me, though I could sense that he had heard my words.

    “I am to guide you along the path of righteousness; to make both you and your people strong. I offer you counsel, and you will pay heed to my words and do your very best to carry out the tasks I shall give you.”

    “But who are you?”

    I paused for a moment. There was no sense in telling him my birth name, and potentially much harm could come of it for I had been known to him, if not by him, and in my lifetime would have presented a threat to his crown. It would, I thought, be an inappropriate jest to assume the role of Spiritum Sanctum, a jest that the Almighty might take an objection to.

    “You will call me l’Eminence Grise.”

    He nodded, once, disappointed, and waited for me to continue.

    “Perhaps you should ring for a servant to bring you some mulled wine,” I suggested. “This could take quite some time.”
    Last edited by MrT; 12-05-2002 at 20:29.
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  2. #2
    StoreytellAAR Storey's Avatar
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    Hmm this could be a challenge to keep interesting for the entire GC. France usually ends up way too powerful after 100-150 years. What is your goal this time? Great start as always.

    Joe
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  3. #3
    Captain Edgar Francis I's Avatar
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    Ah, the Unified Narrative problem tackled once again. How to tell a coherent story that lasts longer than a single human lifespan?

    You have chosen Option B, Supernatural (Undying) As Narrator.

    What A and C would be I have no idea.

    But the question: is there justice beyond death? And who really was offering le marquis his "second chance"?

    It is a rash dead person who so readily swears on his soul. If he had any active nerve endings left, he could be made to smart for it.

    All things to be revealed, alas. Yet another from MrT...

    I will be reading.

    EF1

  4. #4
    The Father of AARland Lord Durham's Avatar
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    So ya chose France after all. Had to be the beer

    Nice guest appearance by Longarm.

    Add another to the collection of 'Things to Read by MrT ' ...
    Current AAR: The Sons of Ragnar Lodbrok: In the Shadow of the Great Old Ones

    Follow the link to read The Pariah. For more Lovecraft style horror, try The Crane Horror and my Holmes/Lovecraft story The Case of the Galloway Eidolon. All are free to read in the Lovecraft eZine.

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  5. #5
    Historian in Training Lord Joseph's Avatar

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    A very interesting choice, I must say. Lord Durham seems to suggest that other countries were under consideration, may I ask what countries they might be?
    Long time, no post.

  6. #6
    Field Marshal MrT's Avatar

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    Well...the short list:

    Sibir (played 100+ year....*yawn*)
    Portugal (very close second)
    Tibet
    Manchu
    Dai Viet (taken, now, by a solid writer so why compete?)
    Malacca

    But it's all LD's fault really. I was going to do Portugal but then he said "You know what hasn't been done in a long, long time? France!"

    Beer

    Beer

    Beer

    Beer

    Beer

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    Beer

    Beer

    Beer for LD

    Beer

    Beer

    Beer

    France seems like a good idea...

    Beer

    Beer

    Beer

    Beer

    Beer

    Beer

    Beer

    Beer

    Beer

    Beer

    Beer

    Beer for LD

    Beer

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    Beer

    Tab please.

    I think.

    Notice a slight disparity there?
    If I use this colour text or this one then I'm "speaking" as a moderator. Ignore at your peril.

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  7. #7
    Lt. General driftwood's Avatar

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    Ah, we all knew (or guessed) that LD can't hold his drink - too old!

    Uh oh, why do I suddenly think a character of mine is going to have a cow fall on him?

    Oh, right, good start MrT. Don't let the naysayers get to you, there's always more for France to do. I call the "more" "Eastern Europe".

    driftwood

  8. #8
    Historian in Training Lord Joseph's Avatar

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    LMAO... so did you wait til you were a little more sober, or play the game when you got home... because that would make for a hell of an AAR...


    "We released every single possible vassal from out control, then broke the vassaliges because we didn't like those golden shapes on the diplomacy screen..."
    Long time, no post.

  9. #9

    Mmmm

    I really liked the start of this AAR, I'm looking foreward to reading more!

    And for my next AAR, I'll see if I can come up with an excuse not to change royal advisors every generation. Maybe I'll be able to conduct a coherent... coherent.... thingy!
    Currently making the streets of Oslo unsafe in my Lotus Elise. Muahahaha.

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    What if Hitler...
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  10. #10
    Beware of the HoG
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    MrT,

    Love the Longarm reference... Great start.

    The first and only time I played Ethiopia in the IGC it was after a drinking binge... I'm still terribly distraught about the entire incident, especially Nubia taking advantage of me...
    HG

    You want to live where the suffering is/I want to get out of town/Come on, baby, give me a kiss/Stop writing everything down/Both of us say there are laws to obey/Yeah, but frankly I don't like your tone/You want to change the way I make love/I want to leave it alone
    -Leonard Cohen

  11. #11
    Kind of back online Kort's Avatar

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    Good start. However I'd like to add something. In french we don't say "l'éminence gris" but "l'éminence grise" instead. Because "éminence" is a feminine noun.

  12. #12

    Thumbs up

    Wow, what a start!

    My guess would be that it's the Devil, seeing as God would never make such an offer, nor would he care about fighting between nations.

    Or maybe that's just the 21st century talking

  13. #13
    Field Marshal MrT's Avatar

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    Thanks all. You'll be getting regular installments beginning this weekend after I've played a little further (I'm in 1454 now).

    Storey: I'm afraid that having played for ages as a gentle, friendly Seibenburgen, my goals run much more heavily towards a powder blue planet. I'll just have to work extra-hard to keep the AAR interesting for you all.

    EF: Aaaaahhh. A theologian at heart, eh? Glad you're thinking about that already.

    LD: That is not likely to be the only guest appearance in this AAR...and yes, your bribery set the tone.

    driftwood: I call "more" Eurasia, India, the Orient...

    LJ: Now THAT's an idea!!! Must try it sometime, but not this one.

    Mimir: It's always a chellenge to find a plausable "hook" isn't it.

    HG: LOL! At least she was "nubile"

    Kort: Thanks very much. I used to be fluent but that was 25 years and several breweries ago. I'll do an edit/fix on the posts and beg LD to fix the thread title. He'll be starting to ask me if I will ever spell a thread title correctly.

    Sharur: Ah, like EF, you're starting to question the "voice". Not wishing to get into a major theological debate, I would remind you that God has definitely taken "sides" in a war before...albeit not necessarly all that recently. I guess we shall see what we shall see.
    If I use this colour text or this one then I'm "speaking" as a moderator. Ignore at your peril.

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  14. #14
    Beware of the HoG
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    MrT,

    Nubia the Nubile they call her... She routed me all night long, knocking me out with those East African red-shield guys...

    Another alcohol-induced fiasco took place during a politically careful EU 1 game as Prussia, on max settings... Had a little gin with some buddies, annexed Poland.

    When you're seeing three of everything, BB wars are even more overwhelming.
    HG

    You want to live where the suffering is/I want to get out of town/Come on, baby, give me a kiss/Stop writing everything down/Both of us say there are laws to obey/Yeah, but frankly I don't like your tone/You want to change the way I make love/I want to leave it alone
    -Leonard Cohen

  15. #15
    The Father of AARland Lord Durham's Avatar
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    Originally posted by driftwood
    Ah, we all knew (or guessed) that LD can't hold his drink - too old!

    Uh oh, why do I suddenly think a character of mine is going to have a cow fall on him?
    driftwood
    Let's get something straight. RIGHT NOW! If you look at MrT's previous post, each one of those beers that he drank were of the shooter variety. The beer label with my name beside it was a pitcher of beer.

    Anyway, at least he got two things right. I convinced him to try France, and he paid.

    What he forgot to mention were the lessons I gave him in 'writing effective dialogue' and the fact he kept drooling on the table.

    [shameless plug]

    BTW, those of you who liked the opening of MrT's AAR and haven't read my Napoleonic one may want to consider it. You may be pleasantly surprised.

    [/shameless plug]

    Oh, and driftwood... watch the skies...
    Current AAR: The Sons of Ragnar Lodbrok: In the Shadow of the Great Old Ones

    Follow the link to read The Pariah. For more Lovecraft style horror, try The Crane Horror and my Holmes/Lovecraft story The Case of the Galloway Eidolon. All are free to read in the Lovecraft eZine.

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    For a complete list of my AARs go to The Ink Well. Visit my Website for news, reviews and story excerpts.

  16. #16
    Lt. General driftwood's Avatar

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    HG - have you ever seen the Onion article about the developers who raped the virgin forest? They said it was the forest's own fault for alluring them with its untrammelled and pristine lands.

    LD - not to pigeonhole myself TOO much, but I think there was an old Dragon Magazine article (back when I read it) about ways that DMs get back at unruly characters, and cows from the sky landing with remarkable accuracy was at the top of the list.

    driftwood

  17. #17
    Death causwed by falling was always a succes, whether it was the player falling or an object falling onto the player...
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  18. #18
    Beware of the HoG
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    DW,

    Yeah...

    Damn California redwoods were asking for it, being so old and tall and stuff...
    HG

    You want to live where the suffering is/I want to get out of town/Come on, baby, give me a kiss/Stop writing everything down/Both of us say there are laws to obey/Yeah, but frankly I don't like your tone/You want to change the way I make love/I want to leave it alone
    -Leonard Cohen

  19. #19
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    Off to another great start, I see. Well, just look after your savegames, will you? It won't do if you leave them sitting on your HD alone, they get lost (or corrupted) so easily.

    Oh, and a question about the ghost: Does he live in an old armor, or does he prefer the cupboard under the stairs? No, wait, that's where Harry lives...
    'Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic.'
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  20. #20
    Field Marshal MrT's Avatar

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    Most of the time he's content just to sit in a Comfy Chair that happened to be in the King's Study
    If I use this colour text or this one then I'm "speaking" as a moderator. Ignore at your peril.

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