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Thread: A Collaborative History of Genoa

  1. #1
    The Father of AARland Lord Durham's Avatar
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    A Collaborative History of Genoa

    For my next AAR I have called upon the writing talents of Driftwood, MrT, Sgt. Bloomfield and Rath Jones. The premise is a history of Genoa from various viewpoints. These will vary from the Doge, to the generals, admirals, merchants, peasants, the enemy and so on.

    This is not an RPG, however, from time to time we hope to solicit guest writers. Therefore, if you have an idea please PM or e-mail me.

    The AAR itself is very structured. I play the scenario and record the events, pass along the notes, then we all discuss how to approach each segment and from what POV.

    It's rather a radical experiment, but I believe it should work nicely.

    EDIT: As an aide to the reader, I have highlighted in bold text the 'game passages' that are, or will, be covered in more detail by the various writers.
    Last edited by Lord Durham; 21-09-2003 at 18:24.
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  2. #2
    The Father of AARland Lord Durham's Avatar
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    June 7, 1920: Alexandria, Egypt

    Sir Jonathan Thomas York had always styled himself an amateur archeologist and historian. For much of his 64 years he had traveled the countries of the Mediterranean searching for, and studying clues to man's past.

    Over those years he had built a well established connection of informants and colleagues, people who had often proved invaluable whenever a discovery of some importance was revealed. Coming from a family with deep pockets played no small part in his ability to be among the first on the scene of a discovery, whether major or minor.

    So, on this sweltering day in the fabled city built by Alexander the Great, Sir Jonathan stepped from a merchant ship onto a bustling dock. Dressed in a white suit and sporting a fedora, the aging man glanced among the milling throng until he spotted a smallish Egyptian, waving at him in obvious joy. Sir Jonathan shuffled toward him.

    Ahmed was a thief and a scoundrel, but he was a resourceful thief and scoundrel, and much beholden to the thick set Englishman who ambled toward him. The two had established a good working relationship over the years, and the small man knew exactly what the scholar coveted in his searchings. He also knew the man paid well. Very well indeed.

    After a round of formal pleasantries, Ahmed led the two men through the twisted streets of the new city into the ordered streets of the old. Down an alley, and up a back flight of stairs brought them to a humble set of rooms that Ahmed called home.

    Sir Jonathan sat down in a wicker chair, while a boy servant prepared coffee. Once it had been served the Englishman broached the subject of business. "Well, Ahmed my friend. What do you have for me that requires such urgent attention?"

    The Egyptian smiled, revealing a mouth full of rotted teeth. He went to a locked chest in the corner and fumbled about. When he returned he set down several dusty tomes and a few manuscripts. "These were unearthed near the old library, sahib. A few coins, and the guards were convinced to look the other way."

    Sir Jonathan grimaced. He didn't necessarily enjoy hearing about the methods Ahmed used to acquire these precious gifts. He mumbled, "I will pay you commensurate to the importance of these books." Saying that, he reached for one. It was a scroll written in old Greek, and in fairly good shape. Another was a book written in Arabic. Finally, he picked up a tome and dusted it. Surprisingly, it was written in Latin. He glanced at Ahmed. "You found this with the others?"

    The man bobbed his head.

    Sir Jonathan rubbed at the cover with his sleeve, until a title appeared. He read it aloud. "A History of Genoa." Opening the book, he began to read, grateful that his studies had included the dead language of the Romans. The first written passages commenced in 1419, and discussed in general terms the events of that first year. He noted some numbers written in the margin by certain passages, and on a hunch he flipped until he came across the first cross indexed reference.

    Sir Jonathan sat bolt upright. Not only was this a history of Genoa, but it appeared to include numerous eyewitness accounts by people from all walks of life.

    The elderly man could barely hide his joy. It was an exceptional find. Not only was it a history, but it was a detailed look at a cross selection of people from that era, famous and ordinary. This book was an anthropologist's dream.

    Sir Jonathan flipped to the back of the volume. It ended in December of 1819. He sat back, furrowed brow knit in perplexedness. That was just one hundred years past. Who had written it? He looked at the cover and could see no credited author. And how had it come to be mixed with these far more ancient scrolls?

    Those were questions he would have to discern later, but for now he decided to reward Ahmed handsomely, and retire to his modest estate in Cairo.

    It appeared that he had much reading to do.

    Last edited by Lord Durham; 13-04-2002 at 19:29.
    Current AAR: The Sons of Ragnar Lodbrok: In the Shadow of the Great Old Ones

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  3. #3

    Thumbs up

    Wow, spectacular opening, Lord Durham! This should be great. Does the collaborative project mean that MrT will be writing for one character, HolisticGod for another, etc., or that they will write for whoever?

  4. #4
    The Father of AARland Lord Durham's Avatar
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    Thanks Mr. Sharur. What it means is that we are all free to pick an event or character to expound upon within the limits of the game updates. It could cover an event, like a RM, or a series of events, like a campaign. There will likely be some reoccuring families, but the whole idea is to tackle the AAR from the widest variety of viewpoints possible.
    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.

    Available: The Saglek Incident in the anthology Sha'Daa: Pawns and Witiko in the anthology Bigfoot Terror Tales: Vol 1

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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.

  5. #5
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    LD,
    Sounds like an interesting idea. You can coount on me to play a role of grateful audience...
    'I live to serve.'

  6. #6
    Field Marshal MrT's Avatar

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    Now when you said (via e-mail) that you had an idea on how to open it, I had no clue it'd be like that. What a great idea! You surpass yourself, sir.

    Needless to say, I'm looking forward to this immensely. Genoa, here we come!
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  7. #7
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    LD,

    I'm cluttering the thread now, but I had to echo MrT and be the first to rate it...

    On the basis of your miscalled "shell" alone, five stars...

    Glad to be a part...
    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
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  8. #8
    Looks like we're in for a pretty long AAR. I can't wait for the first chapter! Are you going to play realistically, or are you just going to conquer anyone and everyone?

  9. #9
    Disinherited Knight Wasa's Avatar

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    This should be great.

    With all the talent of these gentlemen combined the result will be just awesome I think.

    Maybe it is time to actually write a novel?

  10. #10
    The Father of AARland Lord Durham's Avatar
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    Misha: Thankyou, as always.

    MrT/HG: Thanks. The cheque's in the mail

    Empereur Napoléon: Good questions. We have purposely decided to play it realistically, as opposed to taking over the world. We all felt there were more stories to be told other than military ones. But that's not to say there won't some expansion, Ai willing that is
    And yes, it could be long, though Genoa's early years will probably fly past fairly quick. Pacing is something we will have to feel around for.

    Wasa: So long as we live up to the hype I just hope I can keep up with these gentlemen.

    Anyway, on with the show. First post will be coming later today.
    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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  11. #11
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    Just thought I'd pop in, add my five stars and say: Great! Looking very much forward to this one, lads.
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  12. #12
    The Father of AARland Lord Durham's Avatar
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    June 10, 1920: Cairo, Egypt


    During the entire hurried trip to his estate in Cairo, Sir Jonathan resisted the urge to produce the priceless tome for casual reading. He had secreted the book deep into his personal effects, and kept the suitcase with him at all times. He realized he was acting somewhat paranoid, while his imagination played on the fact that every glance he received was really aimed at his precious cargo.

    The train ride was long and meandering, with many maddening stops in totally mundane places. Eventually it pulled into the sprawling, ancient city of Cairo, brakes squealing and whistle screaming, to slow to a lurching stop.

    As the passengers disgorged from the overcrowded train, Sir Jonathan remained in his seat until he was the last to remain. With a sigh he followed, clutching the case tightly.

    When the explorer reached his estate, the cries of evening prayer were sounding throughout the capital, bringing the city to a standstill. With a final look around, Sir Jonathan entered his home and retired immediately to the study.

    With prayers ended his servants appeared, expressing delight at his sudden arrival. He asked for coffee, a meal, and privacy.

    * * *

    The sweet aroma from the custom made pipe gently filled the room, blending with the deep mahogany smell of the wood paneling. His hunger sated, Sir Jonathan sat in a deeply plush chair, allowing himself to stare longingly at the book jacket. With barely constrained eagerness he flipped the cover.

    He scanned the contents of the first two years, covering the Dogeship of one Tommaso de Campofregoso. The information was sparse, so he would give it a cursory look. It was the numbered references that he would dwell on. These would be the real treasures. He began to read:

    * * *

    In January, in the year of our Lord 1419, in the fourth year of the rulership of Doge Tommaso de Campofregoso, there was some unrest in the land.

    Firstly, let me explain that Genoa consisted of the home possession of Liguria, the nearby island of Corsica, and two possessions on the north coast of the Black Sea, namely Kaffa and Kerch. Her treasury stood at 246,000 Genoese Pounds.

    Genoa was neither hated, nor loved by any other country. Her standing in the world was somewhat neutral, and she was totally non allied. It should be noted that due to past grievances, she held rightful Casus Belli against Naples and Albania.

    Genoa boasted a modest army of 9000 infantry and 1000 cavalry, stationed in Liguria, and under the command of one General Prato. In the port city of Genova a fleet of 5 warships, 25 light galleys and 5 transports was commanded by Admiral Pisa.

    The State religion of Genoa was Catholic, while the local religion of both Kaffa and Kerch was Orthodox. There had been rumblings of revolt from those two possessions, emanating from a rather over zealous Catholic clergy.

    So wisely, in January of 1419, Doge Tommaso instructed the Church to allow the Orthodox religion more freedom to worship. This delighted the population, and caused all subversive rumblings to cease. However, the Church decided to direct its ire on the Moslem religion, which was not as prevalent. Next, the Doge promoted a Baliff to Tax Collector in Liguria, followed in February by the groundwork for a tax office on the island of Corsica.

    Genoa was considered a major trading center at the time, though not as important as her arch rival Venice. Nevertheless, in February the Genoese managed to establish a monopoly on their market, and by March had succeeded in substantially penetrating the Venetian market.


    Local unrest was eliminated in March of 1419, and Genoa was as stable a country as could be. The Doge decreed that excess monies would be put into research for improvement of the army.

    In October a modest presence was introduced in the market at Tago, far to the west, but unfortunately in November they lost their monopolistic status at home. It would be some time before they could regain it.

    In January, in the year of our Lord 1420, the treasury stood at 123,000 Genoese Pounds.

    The year itself was for the most part uneventful. The tax offices were successfully established in Liguria and Corsica, much to the dismay of the local population. This consternation convinced the Doge that introducing Tax Collectors in Kaffa and Kerch would be a bad idea, given the volatile nature of these people.

    In May, Genoa signed a Trade Agreement with Venice. The Doge saw no reason to antagonize her arch rival any more than her mere existence already did. The move was applauded by the merchants and the Bank of St. George.

    November saw a massive influx of people settle in Kerch, increasing the population by some 2,500 souls. The reasons for the immigration are hazy, though religious persecution from the barbarian peoples to the east have been suggested.

    By January, in the year of our Lord 1421, the treasury stood at 138,000 Genoese Pounds.

    During the month of April, after much diplomatic by-play, Savoy and Milan invited Genoa to join their fledgling alliance. The Doge had worked hard to secure her northern borders, and to cement the agreement he arranged a marriage of some importance between his house and the house of the Dukes of Savoy. The ceremony took place on April 2, and was a much talked about affair.

    This was followed by another marriage between Genoa and Milan on the 15th of June.

    Sadly, in October of the same year, the Doge Tommaso de Campofregoso was forced into exile. He was usurped by Francesco Maria Visconti, the Duke of Milan. Though his reign was long, his continued absence from Genoa resulted in a poorly run country beset by internal feuding among long-standing families. Francesco Maria Visconti assumed the Dogeship on October 26, in the year of our Lord 1421.


    * * *


    Sir Jonathan set the book on his lap and reached for his coffee. He noticed that his pipe had gone out. Smiling ruefully, he relit it, then the aging man picked up the book once more, and flipped to the first of the personal accounts, a certain tale about tax collecting...
    Last edited by Lord Durham; 13-04-2002 at 18:46.
    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.

    Available: The Saglek Incident in the anthology Sha'Daa: Pawns and Witiko in the anthology Bigfoot Terror Tales: Vol 1

    Also: Plains of Hell in the anthology Lawyers in Hell & Colony in the anthology Rogues in Hell, continuing the HUGO award winning Heroes in Hell series, edited by Janet Morris

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

  13. #13
    Veteran Forumist HJ Tulp's Avatar
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    All right LD is back.
    Great start ( like always).
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  14. #14
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    Great as Always LD. Um are you lot splitting your parts equally or is it going to jump around from one author to the next? Or are you writing the main part with bit parts from the rest? Not that im bothered because im sure it will be great like all the rest of yours
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  15. #15
    Lt. General driftwood's Avatar

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    The Adventures of Guido Petrosco, pt. 1

    Sir Jonathan flipped to the first cross-index. It was a lengthy entry, written in some strange cross of a novel and a memoir. It was entitled,

    On the Morality of Tax Collection;

    or, I Called Her Bastia, being the Adventures of One Guido Petrosco

    or, How the Corsicans wert Tam'd, with Notes on how they were Not.


    Apparently the author had written the first portion as the narrator, and the second from his own perspective. Sir Jonathan refilled his coffee cup and leaned in with anticipation.


    "GUIDO!"

    Guido Petrosco gave a terrified yelp. It wasn't just that the voice was thunderous and promised an eternity of pain if a decimal point was misplaced or a 1 not carried. It was the incongruous setting ... thunderous voices had no place in accounting houses!

    "Guido Petrosco, if you ever want to look on my daughter's fair hair again, you'd better have those accounts in FRONT OF MY FACE BEFORE I COUNT TO TEN *OR* *I* *SWEAR*--- oh, yes, very good." Antonio Palena, the new tax collector for Liguria, was famously mercurial. Quick to anger, but even more quickly appeased.

    "Hmm, yes, quite correct. The projections held up after the census numbers came in? YOU DID GET THE CENSUS NUMBERS, *DIDN'T* *YOU*?!"

    "Uh, erhm, yessir. I cross-referenced them by locality, like you said."

    "Oh, nicely done." Quaestor Palena leaned back in his chair - not easy since there was no spring mechanism to allow for leaning - and pondered his journeyman assistant.

    In 1418, the Republic of Genoa had found itself at peace, with no imminent wars from any direction. With a steady stream of revenue coming from her Black Sea and Mediterranean trading operations, the Commune had, quite surprisingly, wondered if something should be done to improve the longterm prospects of the Republic. Someone had mentionned that the city should overhaul tax collection, make it into an appointed office based on a census and subject to auditing, instead of leaving it up to the whimsy of a hereditary bailiff.

    Even more surprisingly, the proposal had eventually been enacted into law. In a fit of archaicizing classicism, the title quaestor, from that of the old Roman financial officers, had been selected over the more mundane if self-explicative tax collector. Nonetheless, Antonio Palena, head of his own well-respected countinghouse, had been selected as the first quaestor. Promotion in hand, plus a budget of 50,000 pounds to implement the program, he had embarked on a district by district survey of the city and its environs.


    Now, in January of 1419, the results were in. Guido, despite a general hatred for numbers and writing, had been assigned a tax projection the previous year, and now had to reconcile it with the actual population numbers. The citizens of Genoa apparently hadn't thought that they themselves would have to pay more in taxes, merely their neighbors and enemies. Already there was grumbling, but it would be hard to undo the reform.

    "Guido, lad, you show a gift for quaestoring --- quaestorization --- quaesting ---"

    "Tax collection?"

    "Yes, that's what I said. DON'T INTERRUPT YOUR BETTERS!" Antonio slammed a glass of whiskey down his 6'0", 150 lb frame. Guido, standing nervously in front of him, looked like a shrunken version of his master, only younger, at 23 years instead of 42.

    "Where was I? Oh, yes, quaestoral activities. After the success of the Ligurian reforms, the Doge would like to set up a similar operation in Bastia."

    "On Corsica?" Guido asked in alarm. He pitied the sap who had to force the Corsicans to do anything against their will - especially to organize them.

    "YES, ON CORSICA!!! ARE YOU AWARE OF ANY OTHER CITIES, O *STRABO* *THE* *FRIGGIN'* *GEOGRAPHER*, NAMED BASTIA?!?! Don't answer that. Just get me some more whiskey."

    "Of course, the Doge asked me to recommend someone. It had to be someone who knew how to set up a quaestacular operation. Someone who knows his letters and numbers. SOMEONE I COULD KEEP UNDER MY THUMB." The quaestor stared at Guido, who held a vacant if innocent expression on his guile-less face.

    "IT'S YOU, YOU DUMBER-THAN-A-GERMAN SACK OF SLUDGE! If you ever want to marry my daugther, you better be in Bastia in a month. You have one year to get everything in order. The Doge will give you another 50,000 pounds, although the Good Lord knows what you'll be able to spend it on. They're savages there, you know."

    Guido didn't know, but he supposed he would soon find out. He thought about asking if he could marry Antonia, lovely in his eyes, horsefaced in most others', before he left, but then thought better of it and scurried out of the office.


    Sir Jonathan paused in confusion. The next page contained a completely unrelated account. Checking carefully, he noted that another number was written at the end of the first part. And sure enough, at the appropriate cross-reference, the story picked up with the firsthand account of Guido Petrosco, Quaestor of Corsica.
    Last edited by driftwood; 31-03-2002 at 23:35.

  16. #16
    Lt. General driftwood's Avatar

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    The Adventures of Guido Petrosco, pt. 2

    I had seen many pictures of Caesar crossing the Don --- or was it the Ober? maybe the Danube? --- and he always stood defiantly in the prow of his ships, facing down the sea winds without concern. I tried to attempt this as we set sail from Genoa, to inspire my men. Unfortunately, I fell overboard and had to be fished out, which did very little, if anything at all, to inspire my men. Come to think of it, how was Caesar getting around in 10 man rowboats?

    I soon discovered that I had two previously unknown allergies: the first was to sea air and the second was to the swaying of a below-decks cabin. So my trip was a study in personal misery. The plans, schemes, and methods I had planned to concoct during the voyage remained unconcocted, careening about wherever unconcocted plans exist in the ether.

    My landfall on Corsica did not bode well either. I had been expecting the populace to turn out to welcome me, as I would effectively become their new governor. At least a military retinue would have been in order. Instead there was a surly Corsican who appeared unhappy to have left his goat herd in other hands.

    Spitting just to the left of my feet, he growled, "Eh, so you're the new bastard?"

    I acknowledge that I was indeed he, though I would prefer not to be so labelled. Meliaro, as this man was called, showed no interest in my protests. However, he would become my most trusted aid and confidante.

    Upon my arrival in Bastia, I was surprised to find that there was no residence for the tax collector - I'll not use that wretched title, quaestor - and that Meliaro was preparing to disappear.

    "Eh, you know the saying," he told me when I challenged his departure, "time is goats, and goats are money."

    I revealed to him that I was in possession of great sums of money, and he in turn told me something of great importance for the future.

    "Eh, I did not say time is money, like you mainlanders. Your money, it is nothing here. What will we do with Genoese pounds, or Venetian ducats, or Arab dinars? Wealth here comes from the Old Things - land, family, herds, olive groves. And you cannot take 10% of a goat."

    All the same, I prevailed upon him to return in a month. I trusted that I would be able to finish my work in Bastia by then, leaving one month to deal with the rest of the island, after which I could spend the next 10 months back in Genoa.

    I was to be rudely disillusioned over the next month. No one, it seemed, actually lived in Bastia. They came, they went. If they stayed, they moved about. If they went, they never went to the same place twice. Once a season, they had assigned taxes to bring, and that first occasion in my duty as tax collector occurred three weeks after my arrival.

    Gerardo Beran, the old bailiff of Corsica, had set up table and some pens near the central square. For the occasion, the bishop of Bastia had hauled himself up from wherever he kept himself; I never determined any rhyme or reason to his strange schedule of appearing in church to perform mass and disappearing for weeks on end.

    The first peasant led a cow up to Gerardo. "I offer this cow as the tax on my lands, herds, and groves," he said lazily. The bailiff, eyes half-shut with boredom, nodded, and the peasant left with his cow.

    I calmly noted to the bailiff that the peasant had forgotten to leave his tax.

    "Don't you yell at me, you thin excuse for a reed," the bailiff retorted unfairly, for truly I don't recall raising my voice. "This is March, no? How can the farmers farm if they give over their livestock or produce to us before the planting season?"

    I wondered aloud if the peasant would later return it, after the harvest.

    The bailiff shrugged and mumbled, "It all balances out ... somehow."

    So the morning went, until a new thought hit me. Two peasants had just arrived and I asked if the lords would be coming to pay their taxes. Both peasants replied at once:

    "They don't have to pay taxes."
    "We pay their taxes for them."

    The two glared at each other, then both spoke again:

    "We pay their taxes for them."
    "They don't have to pay taxes."

    The two stared furiously at each other. Suddenly the first screamed,

    "Alright, I've had it with you, Furio!"

    He drew a knife and leapt at his countryman who had drawn his own knife and reacted in kind. Instantly a crowd appeared out of nowhere, forming a circle around the two adversaries. They in turn circled, occasionally leaping in for a quick stab, or diving out of the way. It was not long before both were bloodied. I saw chits passing among various onlookers, but was never able to determine what they were attempting to transact.

    Then, just as suddenly, it was over. Everyone cheered good-heartedly and the whole mob moved off for food and drink, including the bailiff and bishop. The only one remaining was Meliaro, who had greeted me upon my arrival.

    I expressed my dismay at the day's outcome.

    "Eh, what did I tell you? A goat is not a stack of coins. It has a purpose beyond being wealth." Then for the first time his expression softened. "Come, leave Bastia behind. It is no more Corsica than you are a man who has known a woman."

    As I explained to him his mistake in regards to the last point, we set off for a most fateful journey across the island.

    Sir Jonathan tried to sip his coffee, only to find that it was empty. Harrumphing in irritation, he levered himself out of his chair and poured a bit of brandy into his favorite snifter. Then he sat back down, curious to see how young Guido's adventures would end.

  17. #17
    Lt. General driftwood's Avatar

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    The Adventures of Guido Petrosco, pt. 3

    There was a blank page now in the middle of the personal account. Apparently there had at one time been a map of Corsica here, or one had been intended. Sir Jonathan sighed in disappointment. His knowledge of Corsican geography was somewhat limited. Putting his disappointment aside, he returned to the story.

    Meliaro led me to his village, where he was the richest man. After dinner that night with his brother and his family, his parents, and his own daughter, his wife having died some years before in a failed childbirth, he promptly disappeared, saying merely that his daughter would show me around.

    I was skeptical of learning anything from Meliana, his daughter. What could a peasant woman know, no matter how round her eyes, heaving her bosoms, or shapely her legs? Furthermore, when I followed her out to the fields the next morning, staring at her swaying hips and rear, I found that I was in no state to absorb new knowledge. But she persevered and proved me wrong.

    She showed me the hills and streams, the flocks and the crops. We went from village to village, and it was quite an experience. I saw that these people were certainly traditional, but neither stupid nor mean-spirited. They in turn realized they had nothing to fear from me. I realized that I could count the people in terms of their families if they moved from village to village, and began a census on that basis. The result of this census would ultimately reveal 5500 families.

    But still the problem of how to get them to pay in coin remained. Whenever I asked why they did not pay in coin, they insisted they had none. When I explained they could get coin by selling their goods for coin, they insisted they bartered for what they needed. And no amount of prodding on my part could convince them to lug coins around with them instead.

    I was musing upon this problem as we rode a mountainous trail. Admittedly, I was also staring at Meliana's jet black curls, in which it seemed a man might contentedly lose himself for a lifetime. Suddenly I noticed a figure ahead of us in the path. Meliana had stopped her donkey and was gripping her reins tightly. Her face very pale under her olive skin.

    "Hey there, m'lord taxman," the figure said. He had several days worth of scruff on his face and a nasty looking sword in his hand.

    I greeted him firmly but courteously.

    "Dont gimme dat fancy talk! How 'bout youse gimme yuir taxes 'stead?"

    I explained that this was merely a reconnaissance expedition, but at such time as I had revenue I would be happy to turn it over in its entirety.

    The brigand appeared confused. "Uhm ... well, hot 'bout youse gimme yuir woman, 'stead o DAT?"

    Meliana looked at me, and for the first time I saw fear in her eyes. I heard a voice say that would be possible, and realized with some surprise that it was my own.

    The brigand's eyes widened. "No?! We'll see 'bout DAT!" He charged down at me, sword drawn.

    I turned my donkey around, but the stubborn beast refused to move faster than at a saunter. The brigand had caught up to me and was closing in. In frustration, I started kicking it about the ribs and the donkey started neighing in anger. Finally, it lashed its hind legs out in anger, catching the brigand squarely in the chest. He dropped to the ground with a *whumpf*.

    I leapt off the donkey, who gave me a hurt look for the kicks. Paying the dumb beast no mind, I grabbed a rock and threw it at the brigand's head, missing squarely. I then grabbed a larger rock and, finding it too heavy to throw, lugged it over to smack his head with.

    "Y-You saved me ..." Meliana sounded as shocked as I felt.

    I found that my knees were trembling. I turned to her, but found I didn't have anything to say. She came up to me, the most radiant smile on her lips, and gave me a gentle kiss on the cheek.

    "You know, you're kind of cute when you blush," she said.

    During the ride back to Bastia, I endeavored to explain that I was merely flushed from the exertion of my duel.
    Last edited by driftwood; 01-04-2002 at 05:32.

  18. #18

    Thumbs up

    Great story, driftwood, this portion is not only superb on its own, but it also promises many good things to come, if the aar continues in this fashion.

    This is definitely the first aar of its kind. Good job, both of you!

  19. #19
    Lt. General driftwood's Avatar

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    The Adventures of Guido Petrosco, pt. 4

    After my valiant duel with the brigand, we took a more leisurely pace back to the city. Without realizing it, I had begun to find Meliana's country sense and ways quite pleasant. Since I did not know if I would ever see her again after the end of our journey, I wanted to stretch out the time we had left. Although I have never been good at reading women, it seemed she was not adverse to such a plan either.

    One night after dinner, as we watched the stars and listened to the sea lapping at the cliffs, she said,

    "Tell me, Guido, what is so hard about this tax collection anyway? You look like you have an albatross, the weight of the world, and maybe a few other things too piled onto your back."

    I explained that a proper system of taxation relied upon assessments and payments unique to each individual and his station in life.

    "What about children?" she asked.

    I explained that they, of course, did not pay until old enough to start working on their own. In effect, their father paid for them.

    "And what about wives? Old men or women?" she pressed.

    I explained that, again, the head of their household became responsible for them.

    "So, when you have people too poor to pay according to your system, you group them together by families? And that way you can get the right amount of money?" she said after chewing her lip for a moment.

    Although that is what we did, I had never thought of it like that. And all of a sudden I could see the way out of this morass of untaxability. I leapt to my feet, sat back down, and, taking her hand in both of mine, declared that she was the smartest person I had ever met. Then I became afraid that she would think I was making an amorous advance and relinquished her hand, which I couldn't help but notice was incredible soft and delicate.

    For some reason, then she said, "I was right, you *are* cute when you blush."

    Upon our arrival in Bastia, I found Meliaro playing backgammon with the bailiff. It appeared he had been winning for several hours. He looked at myself and Meliana for a long moment. Then with a self-satisfied smirk he said,

    "Eh, so I knew you two would have a good time! You know the difference between a goat and a pound now, Guido?"

    I declared that I did; and that the key was not one goat, but one hundred.

    The plan was quite simple. First, the four of us would complete the census of the island. Then the villagers would be grouped by family and by village. Instead of each peasant making the long trek to Bastia to pay an inexact tax, I would assign each family and village a communal tax based on the value of their goods the previous year. One peasant could not give up 10% of 1 goat. But 100 peasants could give up 10 goats out of 100.

    Later, I would elaborate further by allowing taxes to be aggregated over several years, so that one bad year did not destroy a village or fall extra hard on one farmer. More immediately, I found that so much extra revenue came into my coffers, perhaps simply because we went out to the villages instead of making them come to us in Bastia, that I was able to set aside some money to improve the lot of the peasants, to reduce the tax rate, and still to send more money to the Doge than he had seen from Corsica before.

    I had to travel to Genoa to present a report on my progress the next year. While there, several people remarked that I had picked up a Corsican twang to my Italian. Antonio Palena, upset by my refusal to use the title of quaestor, nonetheless declared that the time was right for me to marry his daughter. I accidentally left before the final details could be arranged.

    The first thing I did when I returned was to ask Meliana to marry me. She said that I would need to capture at least two more brigands first, and I had been wandering the hills alone for a week when she found me and, laughing and crying so hard she could barely speak, say that of course she would marry me.

    My last correspondence of a personal nature with Genoa for quite some time was a short note Meliaro and I composed to the Doge. It explained that the smooth inflow of expanded tax revenue from Corsica was dependent on my personal relationship with the natives, and could not be guaranteed to continue if I were removed. Doge Tommaso de Campofregoso did not appear to care, and when he was succeeded by Francesco Maria Visconti in 1421, we did not hear from the new Doge at all.

    I did maintain a few contacts in Genoa over the years, but mostly to let it be known that the Petrosco family would defend the interests of Corsica. In later years, the children Meliana bore me learned on their grandfather's knee the difference between a goat and a pound.

    Sir Jonathan flipped through the register of Great Families at the back of the book. It appeared that the Petrosco family became one of the major Genoese families to endure during the subsequent centuries. The name often appeared in connection with the island of Corsica.

    Sir Jonathan patted his round stomach contentedly. He would never have guessed what a strange story laid behind the birth of a noble family. Before turning to the next account, he decided to enjoy his pipe on his balcony and gaze out upon the Nile...

  20. #20
    All of that just for the promotion of a tax collector! You're style of writing is excellent, Driftwood.

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