Weep Roman, weep.
How come they suffered so in the east?
Weep Roman, weep.
How come they suffered so in the east?
Still working on some other stuff, but I decided to open the chapter 34 close to a vote; would you guys rather read about Vishly, Áras, Georgs, or someone on the fraternal side, or someone else (like a foreigner or someone in a different country)?
Someone in(and from) a different country, if not that then the fraternal side !
I vote a foreigner and if that doesn't happen I'd rather read about Aras
soldier-Sir we're surrounded on all sides!
general-Exellent now we can attack in every direction
A foreigner... i'm hesitating between the Caliphate (could be nice to have the opinion of the muslims on the situation) and the Roman Empire (same from the old arch-ennemy of Prussia)... perhaps as conversation between the two ? :P
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Georgs! I want to see him roundhouse romans again!
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Foreigner--one of the Western Caliphates preferably!
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Chapter Thirty Four: Thicker than Water
By 1316 it was certain that a monarchist victory was inevitable. However it seemed that the Roman Empire, which had lost Wallachia rather quickly, would be able to hold onto Croatia. Not because of their military might, rather the Croatians openly rejected Prussian rule in favor of Roman rule. Impalings of commoners and other protesters were common. The streets of Zagreb and Ragusa were lined with the rotting bodies of the dead. The Romans, were split between those that saw it fit to defend Croatia, and those that wanted to just leave it as it was proving to be an economic drain. Aldwin Leofricson wanted to defend Croatia and despite constantly being defeated by his archrival, Árás Kæstótis, he had attracted a following in Croatia, were he was a hero and protector. The Roman Emperor and his new heir did not support the constant support to Aldwin, so they cut him off from supplies. This left Croatia alone in the war against Prussia. But Aldwin learned from the battles in Wallachia and moved into the mountains and forests. From there he would wage war with or without Constantinople's support. So while Croatia was nominally a Roman state, pleading for Rome for support was futile. The Empire just didn't have the funds and recent issues with Armenia were more pressing then defending a rebel state. So despite clear indications that they could hold onto and win Croatia, the Romans abandoned the plan leaving Aldwin and his army behind.
August 8th, 1316
Xarles bin Iñigo walked slowly down the titled halls of the great palace. His personal retinue followed in close pursuit. The Duke of Navarre tried to keep his calm as he turned the corner and walked into the massive dining hall of the Caliph. The stories of his anger and cruelty were famous within the Caliphate, but never did he hear them from other Dukes and Princes, always from the lay men. On the far end of the room, sitting on a plush purple and gold pillow, was a rotund man taking food off a floating plate that came out of a hole in the wall from whence flowed a small, placid river. The Caliph kept only two guards in his personal attention, eating slowly, often offering them grapes and meats from his own plate. "My lord," Xarles called, "My lord, I have arrived as you have requested."
The city of Toledo, circa 1316.
"O yes, please forgive me! I have misplaced so much time today that I have had to combining work and eating. Would you please join me, dear Xarles?" Caliph Ramon Abbas called. He motioned them over as if the room had been crowded and not completely devoid of life. But his voice was friendly and calm, and Xarles's heart warmed as he walked over and sat across from the Caliph on the other side of the small river. Soon a few trays floated out and the Duke took what he needed and nothing more. "I assume you have finished your diplomatic work in the East?" The Caliph asked in the same friendly tone.
"I have, your lord. I have brought you a copy of my writings for you to read at your will, but I would be happy to give you a brief overview."
"I can read the overview later, but you must tell me of your travels! Ah to see the so-called Black Forest and the great Danube River that carves its way across our lands! Tell me, is it true that in Venice people move with boat instead of horse and cart?!"
"Yes, my lord, the city of Venice is on a very small set of islands. It was very beautiful, they had built a great mosque in honor of your father. It was very beautiful. The Black Forest is rather dark, inside I could never see the sky or the light of day. The trees were so packed and massive! Truly the lands of the East are as majestic as the stories tell."
"Good, did you manage to meet with the Prussians, though? That was of grave importance," The Caliph asked as he drank from a large goblet.
"I did. It appears that the monarchists are going to win, but from my observations and understanding it is only because King Vishly disenfranchised so many of the powerful nobles before the civil war started. Had he not this war would probably be much more in the favor of the Fraternal Forces. We face much of the same from the Taifa, especially in France and Germany."
The Taifa of the Caliphate. Leon, Zähringer and France are special Taifa. France and Zähringer are actually multiple Taifa ruled by a single dynasty. Leon is under the control of Toledo, but is specially reserved for Christians, despite having fewer and fewer practicing Christians each year.
"Yes, and we have issues with the spread of Franda heretics throughout the Empire and the migrations of Shia populations from the South. Is there no example from history we can work off of?" The Caliph lamented, "Are we lost without a light? Are we doomed to lose everything as my ancestors lost England? The Beauce family in France, the Zähringers in Germany, they are all prepared to overthrow all that we have worked for so that they might come out ahead."
Xarles took a deep breath, it was true word of civil war was being passed around in the Caliph as it had been in Prussia. But in this case the Caliph's allies were vastly outnumbered. He would quickly loose and soon the entire Empire would just crumble to dust. The two men were silent for a few minutes before finally Xarles spoke, "My lord, I believe we both know what the answer is, but neither of us wants to say it."
"Yes, I agree. We must increase noble power in order to pacify them," the Caliph said. He looked desperate for answers but the world around him was changing quickly. Frandists were Muslim heretics that preached a different form of Islam that blended more Christian beliefs into the basic Quran. So alcohol ceased to be prohibited, and Jesus was elevated slightly to a position as a pseudo-messiah. But they were more conservative in other ways, rejecting sciences that were often welcomed by traditional Sunnis. It was becoming a massive strain on the Caliphate.
"We should allow five of the most powerful Tiafa to send representatives here to represent their interests in the court. That would likely pacify them, as they are often complaining that Toledo often disregards their needs," Xarles suggested.
"Duke, there is much we should have been doing these past years, we have let the system slip. We have let our people become decadent. We have become lazy and stupid." The Caliph stood up and began walking. Xarles stepped over the river and stood by his leader's side.
"What do you think we should do? It is not too late to begin reforms, recentralize. We can do it. We are the true power of this continent. Not Prussia."
"Xarles, look into your soul... do you really believe that statement? Do you really believe that we are stronger than Prussia?"
"We have more money, people, soldiers, lands, resources... yes... we are far more powerful than Prussia."
"Child: we have more money... and more debts; we have more people... and more languages; we have more soldiers... and more enemies; we have more lands... and more religions; we have more resources... and many more projects that are necessary. When Prussia is done with this war they will have trimmed the fat from their bones, hardened weak arms into muscular weapons, built many siege engines and have many more trained soldiers. I pray to Allah every day that they do not turn their attention back to us, for if they do we are in serious trouble. Their cruelty also knows no bounds. For how much longer can they hold that system together? Fear and hatred will not build a lasting Empire! No, dear Xarles... we cannot walk that road, we cannot try to wrestle the nobles back into power."
"I understand my lord, and Navarre will always be an ally of the Caliph in all his glory."
"Thank you, I knew you, of all my closest allies, would understand and follow me. I have great faith in you, as you remind me of your father. Try not to fear the Prussians so much, a little of them might flow in you," the Caliph winked. "If there is one thing that any Caliph can rely on it is the loyalty of Iberians... the Istimari, Berbers, Leonese and... of course... the Vasques."
"We are honored, my lord. But can I ask of this blood that might flow through my own veins?"
"Sure, see Xarles, a long long time ago there was a great Saxon known as Aelle..."
End Chapter Thirty Four
As promised, the second thread has been opened! Bastions starts tomorrow with the first of 39 recap updates!
Yay! Good to know Aelle lives on throught the Iberians.
And Toledo is the capital? Not Cordoba?
Kingdoms come and go, Empires rise and fall. And soon two Empires shall clash.
Chapter Thirty Five: Fortress
In 1317 the Caliphate was facing its own problems, similar to those in Prussia, in the opposite way. Instead of centralizing its authority in Toledo, the Caliph moved his capital to Barcelona, permanently, and opened up a system of government where the four most important Taifa (France, Navarre, Zähringer Nord, and Zähringer Süd), and in this system France had two votes. The only ally of the Caliph in this group was the Duke of Navarre. This left him vulnerable to usurpers, but settled the rebellious spirits of many of his vassals. In Prussia the civil war waged on, with Hungary and Croatia being the only effective resisters and Bohemia and Mordvia being left as rump states that were just in the process of being pacified. In Croatia Aldwin Leofricson was declared King by the populace and many decreed that they left communion with Prussia and joined Roman Orthodoxy. This left King Vishly infuriated, but convinced his Marshal Árás that the time for fighting in Croatia had passed. He had never been able to commit the number of troops effectively needed to pacify such large regions of the Empire. It was by luck that Croatia was last in line for pacification. He was quick to point out to King Vishly that letting Croatia go would mean that it would soon be under attack from Muslims and once weak, would quickly turn to Prussia for help again. Vishly agreed and Croatia was written off as a loss for the Empire.
Prussia and its revolters in 1317.
November 4th, 1317
Vishly stood on the balcony of his current palace as he watched the construction of the largest fortress in Europe. It would be from such a majestic building that he and his descendants would rule all of Europe. He was sure of it. Croatia was just a minor loss, a pitiful bleeding out of bad blood. He almost shook with visible anger as he thought of that tiny, insignificant Aldwin being declared King, a title that rightfully belonged to the King of Prussia. When Prague was finally back in his hands, he would spare nothing in turning them into an example. In the distance thunderclouds rolled and boiled, releasing strokes of blinding light into the Baltic Sea. Another storm was brewing. A storm in Vishly's heart. No human being who stood against him would be spared, try as they might to plea and beg and grovel. From this new fortress he would be invincible. Along the palace walls banners capped in the heads of the enemy waved in the strong, storm-fed winds. They were tattered and blood-soaked, the markings of defeated regiments of Fraternal Knights and Guardsmen. Once again the Guard was on the run, like roaches in the light of a torch.
In the corner Ziedás watched as Gunvald went over his lessons. The boy was smart, but continued to stutter as he spoke, so he spoke very little. Instead he would smile and nod for yes, frown for no. Vishly and Ziedás grew to despise the young child, the fruit of the union was nothing more than a wordless simpleton. In fact, the boy only visited on a few days out of the month, relegated to working with monks and merchants. It was very unbecoming of a young prince. They boy was smarter than granted, and he dreamed of a day to be free of their hatred toward him. As he wrote in proper Prussian, he noticed that both of them were watching the fortress being built, ignoring that he was even there.
They were ashamed of him, he realized. He tarnished the name of their family and of the Kings that came before him. It all culminated in this embarrassment that he called a life. But outside of these walls, he thought, everyone treats me different. "F-f-father. C... ca... Can I leave?" he asked, quietly. His parents turned to look at him, slightly astounded that he could speak at all.
"And where would you go?" Vishly asked, almost mockingly.
"Cur-C-Courland. I am-m P-p-p-prince of C-Courland, am I-I not?" Vishly laughed, amused by the silly boy that sat in front of him. He left the balcony and entered the center of the room, looming over the seven year old child.
"And what would you do there?"
"I-I w-w-would be out of your hair, I g-guess. An-and that is w-what you want, isn't i-it? Y-you want me g-gone. I-I embar-embarrass you and m-mother," as the boy became more nervous his stuttering worsened and he eventually stopped talking and looked back down at his writing. "æs ieniáj min tevá. min tevá ieniáf æm." repeated ad nauseam.
For second Vishly deliberated in his head but then, as Gunvald began to fear for his life, the King said, "Fine. Get out of this city." Gunvald nodded quickly, grabbed his things and left the room. Quickly he searched for his personal maids, and telling them what happened they packed his things and loaded a carriage. Gunvald watched as Memelgrád sank into the distance. He was glad to be rid of his father, though he knew that he could never truly be free of him. Across the carriage a few servants sat, trying not to look back as the city they had spent all their lives disappeared. Next to Gunvald was his lead advisor, a northerner who spoke with a strong accent and called himself Nigul. Nigul was a dark-haired man who rarely spoke, it was this that bonded him so close to the young prince. He was one of the finest merchants in the Empire, he had been paid to tutor the young boy, but soon found out that he was unwanted and not respected in the least. When payments dried up, he had turned to running local businesses, but this opportunity to return home was too much to pass up.
"W-where are we headed, Nigul?" Gunvald asked, he looked at the dark-haired man and waited for an answer.
The man swallowed and turned to the boy, "Æstlinn, it is the city I grew up in. My family has an estate up there."
"W-w-why not to my grandmother and g-grandfather?"
"I fear that they might be eyes and ears for your father and mother. Childe, do not follow in their footsteps, for they might do what is right... but they do it not for Prussia but for themselves. They are evil incarnate, and as good people we must fight their rule."
"Y-y-you are a fr-fr-fraternal, then?" The boy asked nervously.
"I am, and I am not. I am a merchant boy, and until your father dies so are you. We pick no political sides, we are a side. And right now your father's side is the best side for our own gains."
"W-what do you mean?"
"The Fraternals fear the middle class... like me. So they would probably try to put pressure on us... your father's side empowers us. So for that they are our allies for now."
"Yes. You can always change sides. It might be hard, but in the end... people prefer an ally over an enemy any day. Changing sides is an easy way to ensure victory."
"B-but there is one side you are forgetting, N-nigul."
"And what side is that?"
"Very true. You learn quick."
Hmm, power to the middle-class?
Guillotines have not yet been invented.
So I guess Vishly will go for Finland and Archangesk and/or the Caucasus now? I don't like him that much anymore. Big Tyrants should be above flaws like stutter. Well, I guess he's just more evil than he is great then.